In all the years I have lived in London I have never been to see one of the gun salutes. Today (6 February 2013) is the 61st anniversary of The Queen’s Accession to the throne. Gun salutes are customarily fired as a sign of respect or welcome. Today there was to be 62 rounds, a basic 21 which is a royal salute, 20 because the Tower is a Royal Palace and 21 for the City of London. Apparently, no one can get more than the Queen and Prince Charles gets 61.
I checked on the internet and was advised to get there early, at least one hour before. I did think that the event would be quite an attraction for tourists and always one to follow instructions I gave myself lots of time. I arrived at about 12.20 pm to discover no more that half a dozen people. I soon got talking to Elliot, a third year Architecture student from Westminster University, and discovered that we were the two stalwarts in the crowd who had come specifically for it. Most of the other people had just stumbled across the event and decided to stay.
The police officer and Yeoman Warder on duty were remarkably friendly and informative. I discovered that the nickname Beefeater originated from the time when the Yeoman Warders were paid part of their salary in chunks of meet. There were three 25 pound guns, which the Yeoman Warder, informed me had been made down river at the Royal Arsenal. As 1pm approached more people assembled. We were warned to try to protect our ears as it was very loud. It was and I had nothing with me to protect my ears. Well this is one event I can now cross off my to do list.