Despite what Arthur Conan Doyle might think, it may not take a criminal mastermind like James Moriarty to steal England’s Crown Jewels. British police are investigating how a man breached the walls of the famed Tower and swiped a set of keys from a sentry box used by the Yeoman warders, the Tower’s ceremonial guard.
The warders — popularly known as Beefeaters — have famously locked up of the Tower of London every night without fail for the last 700 years, in a traditional exchange known as the Ceremony of the Keys. But somehow in the early hours of Nov. 6, a man entered the Tower grounds; he was caught trespassing and was escorted from the premises, according to a royal palaces statement quoted in The Guardian.
The keys that were stolen would not have given access to the crown jewels, and a security chief has insisted that the crown jewels were never at risk of being stolen, but admitted that the safety measures taken to safeguard the treasures “were not carried out to the expected standard,” according to The Guardian. The keys that were stolen operated the Tower’s drawbridges and gave access to conference rooms as well as a restaurant on the site. The locks have been changed, while the Tower’s security team investigates what went wrong.
The Crown Jewels have been kept at the Tower of London since 1303 after they were stolen from Westminster Abbey. The collection includes various crowns, swords, scepters, regalia and vestments (and, of course, jewels) worn by the sovereign of the United Kingdom at state functions, including coronations. The jewels on display at the palace include a solid gold crown weighing nearly five pounds and the 105 carat Koh-i-Noor diamond.