RAF Music Services News

The Secret of the Tower

Yeoman Warder and RAF trumpeter stand by the Tower of London.
Yeoman Warder Barry Stringer MBE and Corporal Adam Rosbottom at the Tower of London.

Trumpeters from RAF Music Services perform in an ancient ceremony at the Tower of London.


The Ceremony of the Keys is the traditional locking up of the Tower of London each night. Set amongst the mighty battlement of this ancient, historic fortress, it is one of the oldest and most colourful surviving ceremonies of its kind. Having been enacted every night without fail for well over 700 years, the format of the Ceremony remains much the same to this day.

Throughout military history, trumpet calls have been used to mark certain points or events throughout the day. The Last Post signifies that all was locked and secure for the night. More recently, the Last Post is associated with remembrance and commemoration. During the Ceremony of the Keys, both the original use and the modern association are combined. The call serves as a memorial to those that have fallen within the Tower’s walls, whilst informing the inhabitants of the Tower that the last sentry post is set and the Tower’s perimeter is secure.

RAF trumpeter plays by the Tower of London.
Air Specialist 1 Alan Thomas warms up prior to sounding the Last Post during the Ceremony of the Keys.

The Tower of London, located on the River Thames and now overlooked by Tower Bridge, was founded by William the Conqueror in 1066 and remained a royal residence up until 1603. The Crown Jewels and royal regalia have been housed at the Tower since 1303 and the complex has also been used as a prison, Royal Mint and place of execution.

As part of Public Duties (the guarding of various Royal Palaces across the UK), trumpeters from RAF Music perform the Last Post as part of the Ceremony of the Keys.

To find out more about Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.

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