Her Majesty the Queen honours former Bugle Major



It has been announced in the New Years Honours List 2009 that former Bugle Major John (Johnny) Powell has been honoured with the Royal Victorian Medal (silver) for services to HM the Queen.

The notification appeared in the Daily Telegraph for 31st December 2008 and reads:

RVM Silver

John Daniel Powell, Yeoman Bed Goer, Queen’s Body Guard of the Yeoman of the Guard

Queen Victoria established the Royal Victorian Medal in April 1896 as a reward for personal service to the Sovereign or the Royal Family, and as a mark of royal esteem. The Medal is conferred upon civilians and non-commissioned military personnel. Although the Medal is related to the Royal Victorian Order, it differs in appearance and in the way it is worn.

Recipients are permitted to use the post-nominal R.V.M

John Powell a fourth generation Powell to serve in The Rifle Brigade, he was the first to serve in The Royal Green Jackets. A Rifle Brigade cadet prior to enlisting into The Rifle Brigade Rangers TA in 1957. He joined the Regular Army in 1965 with 3rd Green Jackets, The Rifle Brigade soon to become the 3rd Battalion The Royal Green Jackets in January 1966.

He left the Battalion in 1987 becoming Head Porter at Pembroke College.Cambridge. He was called to London that year and became Yeoman John Powell, and was ‘sworn in’ in January 1988 to the Yeoman of the Queens Bodyguard of the Yeoman of the Guard. He rose through the ranks to become Yeoman Bed Hanger, and the Yeoman Bed Goer, and on 2nd December he became Divisional Sgt Major of the Bodyguard.


A short history of the Queen's Body Guard of the Yeoman of the Guard

The Queen's Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard are a bodyguard of the British Monarch. The oldest British military corps still in existence, it was created by Henry VII in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth Field. As a token of this venerability, the Yeomen still wear red and gold uniforms of Tudor style. There are 60 Yeomen of the Guard (plus 6 Officers), drawn from retired members of the British Army, Royal Marines and Royal Air Force, but not the Royal Navy, because while members of the other services take oaths to the Crown, members of the Navy take an oath to the Admiralty. However, the role of the Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard is a political appointment — the Captain is always the government Deputy Chief Whip in the House of Lords.

The Yeomen of the Guard have a purely ceremonial role. They accompany the Sovereign at the annual Royal Maundy Service, investitures and summer Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace, and so on. However, their most famous duty is to 'ceremonially' search the cellars of the Palace of Westminster prior to the State Opening of Parliament, a tradition that dates back to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, when Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up Parliament. (Today, officers from the Metropolitan Police carry out the actual search.)

In the eighteenth century some 40 Yeomen were on duty daily, and 20 at night. This only ceased in 1813, and thereafter only one division was required daily until about 1837. Today they are only mustered when required, and receive some three weeks duty notice in advance. They are active on some 30 occasions yearly, so each Yeoman appears for some 6–8 days a year.

All Yeomen are over 42 years of age on appointment, and under 55 years. They must be sergeants or above, but not commissioned. They must also have had at least 22 years' service and have been awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal (LS&GCM). On reaching the age of 70 years they become supernumerary and no longer are called for service. There are an average of four vacancies a year, which are filled by the Lord Chamberlain, who recommends the names to the Sovereign. The average age of active members is perhaps 60 years. Yeomen are (or were) exempt jury service, received return railway warrants, and an allowance for meals and overnight accommodation where necessary.

The dress worn by the Yeomen of the Guard is in its most striking characteristics the same as it was in the Tudor period. It consists of a royal red tunic with purple facings and stripes and gold lace ornaments, together with a red cross-belt, red knee-breeches and red stockings, flat hat, and black shoes with red, white and blue rosettes are worn. The gold-embroidered emblems on the back and front of the coats consist of the crowned Tudor Rose, the shamrock and the thistle, the motto "Dieu et mon droit", and the initials of the reigning sovereign. It is the red cross-belt that distinguishes the Yeomen of the Guard from the Yeomen Warders.

The Senior Messenger Sergeant Major and Wardrobe Keeper lives in a house in St James's Palace, where he is responsible for HQ administration, and correspondence. The Messenger Sergeant Major is his deputy. There are four divisions, First, Second, Third, and Fourth. Each has a Divisional Sergeant Major, Yeoman Bed Goer, Yeoman Bed Hanger, and 13 Yeomen.

The term "Yeomen of the Guard" is frequently misapplied to the Yeomen Warders of the Tower of London, a distinct but similar body.

John sadly passed away at 0735hrs on 8th January 2009.  To read the messages left on the "In Memorium" noticeboard click anywhere on this line.

On 1st February 2009 we received the following message from Jenny Powell:

"I would like to thank everyone who have paid tribute to my husband John Powell both with cards and on the web site. I cannot erase the messages as it gives me great comfort and sadness to read them. My children and grandchildren loved him very much and he has left a large gap in our family. He was OC to them all, but he has left a great family who he was very proud of. My thanks to you all.

Jenny Powell"