I'm very certain that if you're not British, you're wondering if Beefeater actually means someone who eats beef. That's why I did a double-take when I saw the title of my source, "First Female Beefeater Begins Job". I was thinking, hmm, beefeater? Sounds like a great job. Taste beef all day, just like wine tasters.
Unfortunately for me and you, beefeater isn't what you thought it meant. Since Wikipedia has already done a great job of describing what a beefeater actually does, here are their duties.
The Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London, popularly known as the Beefeaters, are ceremonial guardians of the Tower of London. In principle they are responsible for looking after any prisoners at the Tower and safeguarding the British crown jewels, but in practice they act as tour guides and are a tourist attraction in their own right.
And this is how they came to be known as beefeaters.
The transition from "loaf" to "beef" may originate from the fact that early Warders were paid in beef, amongst other things. Count Cosimo, grand duke of Tuscany, visited the Tower in 1669 and commented on this "A very large ration of beef is given to them daily at court...that they might be called Beef-eaters" and earlier references can also be found.
So how did Moira Cameron, 42, who started work at the Tower of London today make history? It's simply because of who she is, which is a woman. Imagine all that fuss just because she's a woman. But when you consider that the 1000 year old tradition had no females before her, it becomes quite a big deal.
Not everyone thinks the same way though. According to her,
"I had one chap at the gate one day who said he was completely and utterly against me doing the job,"
To which she replied,
'I would like to thank you for dismissing my 22 years service in Her Majesty's Armed Forces'.(she spent 22 years in the Army, a prerequisite for the job)
And no, she's not keeping a beard. Not that it helps in the job.
I think I would still prefer "beef-eaters".
[Source: Sky News]