A Service to commemorate the Founder of Her Majesty The Queen’s Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard
Tuesday, 28th April 2009
The Queen’s Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard commemorated the 500th anniversary of their founder, Henry VII, at Westminster Abbey on 28th April 2009.
The oldest British military corps still in existence, the Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard was created by Henry VII in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth Field.
When the monarch was crowned at Westminster Abbey his personal escort was formed by the Yeomen of the Guard. In 1509 they had the privilege of carrying the body of their Sovereign and founder to his tomb in the Abbey where they held the commemoration service on Tuesday.
The service was conducted by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, who said in his Bidding: ‘Five hundred years ago, King Henry VII died, on 21 April 1509, at the age of fifty-two. He had brought to an end the Wars of the Roses, stabilised the realm, and reigned for twenty-four years.
‘Six years before his death, he had begun the building of this chapel, which was to become his memorial and resting place and to be completed in 1519. Its restoration was celebrated in 1995.
In this chapel, dedicated in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary and sacred to the memory of Henry VII, in the company of the Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard which he founded, we give thanks to Almighty God for the life of King Henry, and pray for Her Majesty The Queen, for the maintenance of order and law, and for the peace and prosperity of this United Kingdom.’
Today, the Yeomen of the Guard have a purely ceremonial role. They accompany the Sovereign at the annual royal Maundy Service, investitures and summer Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace. However, their most famous duty is to 'ceremonially' search the cellars of the Palace of Westminster prior to the State Opening of Parliament, a tradition that dates back to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, when Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up Parliament.
The Yeomen still wear red and gold Tudor uniforms. A red cross-belt distinguishes the Yeomen of the Guard from the Yeomen Warders who are based at the Tower of London.
Order of Service
Click to view the Order of Service (PDF, 488.8 KB)