Honour for a yeoman bed goer

The New Year Honours, rather oddly published on 29 December of the preceding year, are a treasure trove of British idiosyncrasy, but none more so than the list of those awarded the Royal Victorian Medal (RVM), one of the very few gongs in the personal gift of the Queen and her family:

Royal Victorian Medal

Lee Anthony Baldock chauffeur to the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall
Peter John Bourner
sawmill manager, Sandringham estate
Constable Keith Andrew Chadband Metropolitan Police, services to royalty protection
Richard William Hubert Codman
farm foreman, Sandringham estate
Nichola Colman public enterprises secretary, Sandringham estate
Lee Dobson head valet to the Prince of Wales
Rodney Arthur Frowhawk formerly tractor driver/agricultural engineer, Sandringham estate
Kenneth Giles night warder, state apartments, Kensington Palace
Frances May Hoare senior retail assistant, Windsor Castle
Elisabeth Mabel McInnes formerly flower arranger, Palace of Holyroodhouse
Barry John Mitford page of the backstairs
Geoffrey Peers formerly horticulturalist, Home Park, Windsor
Thomas Edward Trent yeoman warder/assistant ravenmaster, HM Tower of London

But the best of all has to be:

John Richard Henderson yeoman bed goer, the Queen’s bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard

Many intriguing questions are, if not begged, at least prompted by some of these honorands.  Did Ms McInnes give up her job as flower arranger at the little used Palace of Holyrood House on reaching retirement age, or out of boredom, having (presumably) very little to do for around 50 weeks of the year?  Or frustration at having her beautiful and innovative flower arrangements so often unseen by other humans?  How did she while away the rest of the day after she had finished arranging the day's flowers?  Come to that, what made Mr Frowhawk give up his demanding job as "tractor driver/agricultural engineer" at Sandringham?  Reaching retirement age, or a personality disorder brought on by inability to Yeomen of the Guarddecide whether he was a tractor driver or an agricultural engineer?  We can guess how the gloriously titled 'assistant ravenmaster' at the Tower of London with the wonderful Shakespearian name ("Thomas Trent") earns his keep, and trust that his honour hasn't put the nose of his boss, the chief ravenmaster, out of joint:  perhaps he already has an honour, preferably of slightly higher grade.  

But top prize must go to Mr John Richard Henderson, yeoman bed goer, the Queen’s bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard.  If that doesn't boggle the imagination, nothing will.  The explanation in Wikipedia ("there are four divisions, First, Second, Third, and Fourth. Each has a Divisional Sergeant Major, Yeoman Bed Goer, Yeoman Bed Hanger, and 13 Yeomen") raises more equally delicious questions than it answers.  No, I didn't make it up:  you couldn't, could you?

Hat-tip: my wife, without whom, etc.


3 Responses

  1. Tim Weakley says:

    ..and do the Frontstairs also have a page, and does each palace have a different one or does the same chappie dash around the country in the royal wake? And how many valets has HRH – presumably at least three, in eight-hour shifts?

  2. Bob says:

    Never having heard previously of this bauble, the RVM, my mischievous republican inclinations make me immediately suspect that it’s probably a reward for years of faithful service at rates of pay not unadjacent to the minimum ones permitted by law, under working conditions which would be highly unacceptable to any modern trade union. In fact, it might not be stretching things to call the RVM  the ultimate unrefusable offer, dangled over the heads of royal domestic staff to encourage them to stay buttoned-up during their years of exploitation at the hands of HRH &Co  – with the finishing touch its irresistible appeal to the snobbery of some of those destined to receive it , individuals known to The Firm to be willing to barter their declining years enjoying what they see as the cachet of their royal connection for their much longer periods of  exploitation. Forget the funny titles, Brian. You can bet the seemingly under-employed gave their pounds of flesh somewhere.

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