The resident ravens of the Tower of London seem to croak a little louder these days. A few yards from their gathering spot, a golden eagle, traditional symbol of power and kingship, perches on a military standard, keeping watch. It is one of several exhibits on display at the newly refurbished Fusilier Museum in the Tower of London.
The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers is a British infantry regiment named after the Fusil musket and raised at the Tower in 1685. In 1809, having routed the French in Martinique, the Fusiliers carried off the eagle insignia, which had originally belonged to the 82nd Regiment of the French Line, serving under Napoleon.
It was the rugged Sean Bean who propelled the bird to fame more recently in the 1990s televised adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s popular novel Sharpe’s Eagle, inspired by, if not exactly based on, its capture.
Alongside the eagle, cases of medals — including 12 VCs won by Fusiliers — letters, diaries and other regimental memorabilia are on show. Particularly eye-catching is a lifelike wax mannequin of George V sporting the uniform he wore as the Fusiliers’ colonel-in-chief.
The exhibition’s particular focus on the past 40 years of the regiment serves as an unsettling reminder that warfare is still with us.
— Daisy Dunn
Fusilier Museum, Tower of London complex, entry free with ticket to the Tower.