General Sir Gordon Messenger OBE has been formally installed to one of the oldest offices in the United Kingdom – the Constable of His Majesty’s Palace and Fortress Tower of London – in a ceremony featuring members of the British Army and Royal Marines.
General Messenger succeeds General the Lord Houghton of Richmond CBE, who had held the Tower’s most-senior position since 2016, and will become the 161st Constable.
On Wednesday evening an impressive military parade took place on the Tower’s storied parade ground to mark the installation of the first ever Royal Marine to a role that dates back nearly a millennium.
Personnel from the British Army and Royal Marines – the latter reflecting General Messenger’s own service career – took part in the parade.
Flank Guards from 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and the Household Artillery Company lined the parade ground, with a Guard of Honour found from Royal Marines. A Royal Marines Band and trumpeters provided fanfares and musical accompaniment.
Yeoman Warders, the ceremonial guards of the Tower of London formed by military veterans, also formed part of the ceremony. The Grenadier Guards and Irish Guards supplied additional drill instructors, and representatives from 131 Commando Squadron Royal Engineers also contributed to the parade.
History of the Constable of the Tower of London
In its original guise, the centuries-old ceremony marked the transfer of responsibility for the operation, upkeep and security of the Tower, and all those who lived and worked within it.
The role of Constable is largely ceremonial today, but still involves taking possession of the Keys of the Tower of London.
General Messenger is the first Royal Marine and non-Army officer to hold this office, and the first to be appointed by King Charles III. He follows in the footsteps of distinguished military leaders such as the Duke of Wellington, who was the first military appointment to the role of Constable in 1826.
The General served as Vice Chief of the Defence Staff between 2016 and 2019, is a Rear Admiral of the United Kingdom and Honorary Colonel of 131 Commando Squadron Royal Engineers.