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Barney’s on the beat as naval air engineer turns Beefeater

2 November 2023
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In the 538-year history of the Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London – better known as Beefeaters – only one previously served as a Royal Navy air engineer.

(Admittedly aircraft only arrived on the scene in 1903… and naval aviation six years later.)

Anyway… that person is Ryan ‘Barney’ Barnett, the Tower’s newest Beefeater and guardian of the Crown Jewels.

Barney, from Yeovil in Somerset served for 25 years in the Fleet Air Arm as an aircraft engineer, seeing the changing of the guard on two iconic naval aircraft: first the Sea Harrier and then the Lynx helicopter, progressing to the latter’s successor Wildcat until 2020, when he became the Air Weapons Senior Maintenance Rating aboard HMS Prince of Wales until he left the Royal Navy in April. 

“Having served almost 26 years in the Fleet Air Arm, I felt incredibly proud every day to put on my uniform and do the job I loved - servicing and maintaining some iconic aircraft, such as the Sea Harrier FA2 and the Lynx helicopter.  I have made friends for life and have wonderful memories that I’ll cherish forever,” Barney said.

Working with like-minded people, I already feel part of the team – it’s like I’ve never left the military. I am delighted to be working here and I’m looking forward to making many more friends and memories at the Tower.

Ryan ‘Barney’ Barnett

He now joins the prestigious Yeoman Warders – created in 1485 by Henry VII. Today the Yeoman Warders help to bring the history of the Tower of London to life for visitors on their famous tours as well as carrying out ceremonial duties. 

“Wearing this special uniform at His Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London is a boyhood dream,” Barney says of the new chapter in his life.

“Working with like-minded people, I already feel part of the team – it’s like I’ve never left the military. I am delighted to be working here and I’m looking forward to making many more friends and memories at the Tower.”

Applicants for the role of Yeoman Warder must have served at least 22 years in the armed forces, hold the Long Service and Good Conduct medal, and have reached a certain rank in their service before being selected for interview and a rigorous selection process.

 

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