Megan loves her life at the Tower
Anne Boleyn, and Henry VIII’s other doomed wives, regularly traipse past Megan Clawson’s front door. That’s because the 22-year-old lives at the Tower of London, the 13th-century royal palace in the heart of the capital where traitors were once imprisoned and executed.
But it’s not Boleyn’s headless ghost – said to stalk the fortress – that Megan keeps on spotting. Rather, it’s one of several actors who play the Tower’s most famous inmates for tourists.
“A different historical figure walks past my home most days, on their mobile phone,” smiles Megan, who lives in a terraced row of houses built into the Tower’s outer eastern wall with her father Chris.
He works as a Yeoman Warden, or a Beefeater, as these guards of the crown jewels are nicknamed. Together, they share a three-bedroom, four-storey house with Megan’s dog, Ethel.
It’s narrow but homely, adorned with pictures and her dad’s Beefeater memorabilia, including swords on the staircase.
“The thing that shocked me the most when I moved in was how normal the houses are,” Megan tells the Daily Express. “Although obviously we’ve got arrow slits on one side and there are too many stairs.”
Her view of the moat and nearby Tower Bridge is just one reminder that she lives in a 950-year-old castle. “It’s baffling people used to sit in the windows with a bow and arrow, and now I’m sitting here on my iPhone texting my friends,” she says.
“It’s a place that really makes you aware how vastly our culture has changed.” Originally from Lincolnshire, Megan moved in full-time with her dad in mid-2020 after Covid lockdowns made university life isolating and stressful.
Megan with King’s Guard boyfriend George
The relocation inspired her to write her debut novel, Falling Hard for the Royal Guard, which is published today. It’s the story of a young woman, just like her, who finds love while living in the Tower of London with her father.
Handily, she is currently seeing a King’s Guard herself.
George, 24, a blond and statuesque man, resembles a modern-day gladiator. “If you were stealing the crown jewels, he looks like the kind of guy that would stop you,” Megan beams.
Initially, the couple didn’t tell anyone else about their budding romance, which led to some awkward moments.
On one occasion, Megan was hanging her washing on the line just as a minibus of King’s Guards drove past with George on board.
“The guys were laughing and joking that a girl was hanging out her underwear,” Megan remembers. “Then George’s friend turned to the minibus passengers and said, ‘You do know that’s George’s girlfriend?’. That’s how they all found out.”
Then there was the small matter of Megan’s father. Like all Beefeaters, Chris is a retired senior military officer with at least 22 years of service.
“It’s to make sure all the people that are here are the best of the best,” Megan says. “George was a bit scared about it at first.”
To make matters worse, Chris, a former RAF flight sergeant, used to enjoy pointing out to his daughter which guardsmen were the most impressive, and which weren’t. One day, as they happened to pass George on parade, Megan had to hold her breath.
“I secretly thought, ‘Please don’t criticise my boyfriend who you don’t know is my boyfriend!’” she remembers. “Thankfully he didn’t.
“He said: ‘That’s what a Guardsman should look like.’ George thrives off it now.”
Megan says the best thing about living in the Tower of London is its close-knit community of just 100 or so residents. There are of course downsides, like trying to order a simple takeaway.
Many delivery drivers get lost or refuse to believe she lives in the Tower of London. “It helps with a diet, to be honest,” she adds.
Then there are the noisy tourists who regularly call out to her over the top of the Tower’s east wall. Litter can be a problem, too, especially when visitors discard the remnants of their packed lunches into the moat.
“People don’t realise the importance of a place like this,” she says. “They see it like a theme park or a film set.
Falling Hard for the Royal Guard book by Megan Clawson
“It’s the same with the guards. They had to put them behind barriers because people were sticking them with pins to see if they would move.”
But Megan is very proud of her life in one of the world’s most famous castles, regularly sharing her experience with her 300,000 followers on social media site TikTok.
Before going public, she had close friends who refused to believe she genuinely lived there. “Some thought I was pulling their leg,” she smiles.
The other Beefeaters are extremely protective of Megan. When she started dating George, several sent text messages to Chris about her male visitor.
“The story became that I’d had the whole of the Scots Guards back at my house,” Megan says, rolling her eyes. Like all small communities, this one is prone to gossip.
The atmosphere at the Tower can occasionally be creepy. Not surprising when you consider that Guy Fawkes, Elizabeth I, William Wallace, Lady Jane Grey and the Kray Twins were all prisoners here: ghostly sightings are common.
Especially perturbing is the haunted Salt Tower where former prisoners etched their names into the dungeon walls.
“I rarely go in there because of all the stories I’ve heard,” says Megan.
“And a lot of the Beefeaters are scared of it even though they’re big burly veterans.” She also believes a ghostly dog wanders her house at night.
Right now she’s working on her second novel, another romantic comedy called Love at First Knight. She says she’s inspired by walking in the footsteps of the Tower’s previous inhabitants and imagining their stories.
“To live in this part of London is completely beyond anything I ever imagined,” she says. “I still think I’m going to wake up one day and it will have been a very long dream. But it’s been a nice one to have.”
- Falling Hard for the Royal Guard by Megan Clawson (HarperCollins, £8.99) is out today. Visit expressbookshop.com or call 020 3176 3832.