ON May 19, 1536 they executed the Queen of England in the Tower of London. She had the misfortune to be married to that monster of self-indulgence Henry VIII, the desecrator of our monasteries.

Four hundred and 12 years later the Corporal of the Guard posted Guardsman Holmes R on number 3 Post at the Tower of London at 0200 hours. It was late October and the mist from the Tiver Thames enveloped the fortress walls. The official name for Number 3 post was 'The Exit to the Wharf'. It is better known by the more fearsome name of 'Traitors' Gate'.

At 0300 hours the mist had lifted and the yellow light from the gas lamps cast a ghostly radiance that was reflected from the wet road cobbles. There was a sound of movement at the Traitors' Gate. The gold emblazoned barge of the King's flotilla was conveying the Queen of England to her destiny. As the Ladies in Waiting gently assisted the queen on to the wharf there was a whisper of sound like the folds of her dress, like the rustle of dry leaves in a soft wind.

I presented arms. Her Majesty paused and turning to me said: "Thank you sentry, your compliment will help me enter the Kingdom of Heaven." I was dumb-struck. Instead of charging in with rifle and bayonet to rescue this flower of beauty, I stood there uselessly at the 'Present' while they took my queen to the Bloody Tower.

"Halt" shouted the Corporal of the Guard. It was the 0400 hours relief. "Wake up Holmes, you look as if you've seen a ghost." As we marched back to the guardroom, I looked at the Bloody Tower. Who was that lady waving goodbye to me from the top window?

Robert Holmes,

Thorganby, York.