I live in the Tower of London – I have to be home by midnight and tourists mistake me for a princess | The Sun
MEGAN Clawson, 23, is an author, tutor, and TV and film extra.
She lives in London with her dad Chris, 54, a Beefeater.
“As the sunlight streamed into my room, I yawned, sat up in bed – and immediately pulled the duvet over my head as I saw a group of curious tourists staring back at me.
“It’s one of the few downsides to living in one of the county’s biggest tourist attractions, the Tower of London.
“Built in the 1070s by William the Conqueror as a fortress, later becoming both a prison and home to kings and queens, it has stood in the centre of the capital ever since, guarded by the Yeoman Warders, AKA Beefeaters.
“My dad Chris applied to become a Beefeater in 2018, having served the requisite 22 years in the armed forces and been awarded a long service and good conduct medal.
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“After many interviews, he was so surprised to be told he’d won a place as one of only 32 Yeoman Wardens – and that as part of the job, he could live in a two-bedroom house in the Tower’s grounds.
“My parents had separated several years earlier and I lived with my mum and older brother in Lincolnshire, before moving to the capital to start my degree in English and film at King’s College, London.
“While living in student halls, I’d often visit Dad and bring my laundry over to the Tower to use his washing machine.
“When lockdown hit in March 2020, I struggled and missed my parents, so once restrictions eased the following year, I asked Dad if I could come and live with him and he agreed.
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“At first, it felt strange to walk in the footsteps of kings and queens, especially as so many people throughout history were executed there.
“But I quickly got used to taking my dog Ethel, a cotonoodle, for a run in the moat and opening the huge iron doors reputedly installed by Henry VIII.
“At that point, the Tower was still closed to the public, so I was able to write my dissertation in the quiet of the Tower’s walls, with only the rest of the community that live there for company – as well as the famous ravens, which Ethel was a little wary of to begin with when we went for a walk in the moat!
“So it was a shock when tourists were finally able to visit the Tower and I realised they could see straight into my bedroom.
“But once I’d bought some curtains, I began to enjoy hearing the daily chatter of people visiting from all over the world, marvelling at my home.
“When I’ve been walking around the grounds, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked if I’m a princess!
“There are some practical things I’ve had to get used to, however.
“We have to be back in the Tower by midnight for security reasons, and if I’m going to be out later, I have to let the guards know and they will wait up to let me in.
“The Ceremony of the Keys – the ceremonial locking of the gates – takes place between 9.30pm and 10pm every evening, and no one is allowed to leave or enter the grounds during that period.
“If I order something online, it can be complicated – so many delivery drivers get confused about where the Tower actually is!
“And if I order a takeaway, I have to sprint from my house across the grounds and find the driver at whichever entrance they are at.
“When people ask where I live in London, I often just say 'Tower Hill,' as I don’t like boasting.
“But when they do find out, friends generally take it in their stride.
“While I was at uni, I met my boyfriend George, who serves in the Scots Guards, so is often away for several months at a time.
“But when he’s back, I spend as much time with him as possible.
“There are lots of families who live in the Tower, as well as a few people my age, and we often have a drink together in The Keys, our own private pub inside the Tower grounds.
“Since graduating, I’ve been working as an extra for TV and film, building my TikTok channel, where I show followers behind the scenes at the Tower, as well as writing a novel.
“I thought it would be really fun to write a fictionalised romcom about a girl who also happens to live in the Tower.
“The Tower of London may once have been an infamous prison, but to me it’s home.
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“I know one day I’ll have to move out, but for now, I’m enjoying being a lodger in one of the most historic buildings in the country.
- Falling Hard For The Royal Guard by Megan Clawson (£8.99, Avon) is out now.
The Tower of London is home to six ravens called Jubilee, Harris, Poppy, Georgie, Edgar and Branwen.
More than 120 people have been executed at the Tower.
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