The Tower of London keeps a group of ravens permanently on the grounds because of a legend: “If the Tower of London ravens are lost or fly away, the Crown will fall and Britain with it.”
King Charles II (1660-1685) effectively created an insurance policy against the prophesy when he decreed there should always be six ravens in the Tower.
And so, six ravens, plus a number of reserves, are still kept at the Tower, cared for by a dedicated Yeoman Warder called the Ravenmaster. They receive a healthy diet of raw meat, special biscuits soaked in blood, eggs and the occasional rabbit. They have servants and are basically treated like rock stars. People come from all over to see the Tower of London and the ravens.
I had such an occasion on my visit to London. The thing that amazed me about the ravens was how incredibly large they were. On my visit they were just cruising around and sitting on special perches built on the grassy area for them. No one bothers them as there are signs warning to not fuss with the ravens as they may bite plus it is in all the tour guide books. So given the fact they are well taken care for and have no one to fuss with them…
But on one fateful night in the spring of 2013 the ravens had an unexpected visitor and the future of Britain was at stake. An urban fox attacked and killed two of them in the Tower of London. According to The Telegraph, “Jubilee and Grip, were snatched and eaten just before they were due to be locked up in their cages overnight.” Close call, but apparently not the closest. The official Tower of London historian has reported that shortly after World War II, the only two surviving ravens at the Tower, Grip and Mabel, disappeared, leaving the Tower raven free! (So much for the validity of the superstition if indeed the report is accurate.)
So why do they stay? Other than their rock star status and the super tasty blood soaked biscuits? Given the high stakes, the ravens are sort of encouraged to stick around by the clipping of their wings so they can’t fly off.
When I think about my trip to Tower of London and my visit with the ravens, it always brings a smile to my face.
Have you seen the ravens? Tell us about it in the comments.