The scarlet-tunicked Beefeaters, officially termed Yeoman Warders, have always been men through their 500-year history. But not for much longer. Tower officials have confirmed the first female warder is to be appointed, though there is no word on a possible change of terminology to Yeoperson Warders. "There was no question of us deliberately appointing a woman as some sort of gimmick," spokeswoman Natasha Woollard said. "The simple fact is that we had six candidates, five of them male, and the woman was simply the best of them. She was awarded the job on merit. She will replace one who is retiring." The prerequisites for becoming a Beefeater are a minimum of 22 years service, with accompanying long-service and good-conduct medals, as an officer in the British armed forces. While the role of the Beefeaters was initially to provide security for the tower a 900-year-old fortress built by William the Conqueror and to guard the famous captives the castle has held, they now spend most of their days guiding tourists and posing patiently for photographs. They also attend coronations, lying-in-state and charity functions.