If an ancient prophecy is to be believed, Michael "Barney" Chandler just got the most important job in England, BTA reports. 

The 56-year-old former Royal Marine is the new Ravenmaster at the Tower of London, tasked with looking after the feathered guardians of the 1,000-year-old fortress.

According to legend, if the ravens leave the 11th-century tower by the River Thames, its White Tower will collapse and the Kingdom of England will fall. 

Merlina, the Queen of Ravens in the Tower of London, has disappeared

When King Charles II learned of the prophecy in the 17th century, he decreed that there should always be six ravens in the tower. 

"We take this responsibility very seriously. Now that I'm in charge of caring for the ravens, there's an added responsibility on my shoulders," says Chandler. 

As for the prophecy, he adds that he does not know whether it is true or not, as the number of ravens has never been allowed to fall below six.

According to him, this will not happen while he takes care of the birds. 

Michael "Barney" Chandler, who officially takes up the post today, is from the famous Yeomanry of the Tower of London, a corps founded in the 15th century.

Also known as "Beefeaters", all the guards are military veterans.

They dress in distinctive Tudor-style black and scarlet uniforms and perform a hybrid role: looking after security, leading tours of the tower and performing ceremonial duties.

Chandler heads a team of four other keepers who look after the Tower's seven ravens as designated by Charles the Second - six main keepers and one reserve.

Today they are Jubilee, Harris, Poppy, Georgie, Edgar, Branwen and the latest addition, Rex, who was named in honor of King Charles III's coronation last year.

The pitch-black birds are an iconic feature of the London landmark, which has served as an arsenal, a palace, a prison, a zoo and most recently as a tourist attraction.

Built by William the First after the conquest of England in 1066, the tower served as a royal residence for several hundred years, but was better known as a prison.

The Tower is where Anne Boleyn was executed in 1536 after King Henry VIII had his fill of his second wife.

Other famous prisoners included Princess Elizabeth - the future Queen Elizabeth I, Guy Fawkes, and Adolf Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess.

Today, almost 3 million tourists come every year to immerse themselves in the thousand-year history and see the royal regalia that are kept in the tower.

The official title of Ravenmaster has only been around for 50 years, although the position is much older, and Chandler is the sixth holder.

He is responsible for the health and well-being of the birds, which usually roam freely on the tower grounds during the day and sleep in cages at night.

His duties include maintaining their enclosures, arranging vet check-ups and feeding them their preferred diet of raw meat, supplemented with the occasional treat of a hard-boiled egg or a hard biscuit soaked in blood.

The feathers of the birds are clipped so that they cannot fly away, although sometimes they do escape.

According to the charity that runs the tower, a raven named Grog flew away in 1981 and was last seen outside the Rose and Punchbowl pub in the East End. 

Michael "Barney" Chandler is endlessly fascinated by the highly intelligent birds, which he says are as smart as a 7-year-old.

Pressed to say if he has a pet, he names mischievous Poppy, who hops around the grass under the White Tower and eagerly accepts her proffered dead mouse for breakfast.

Chandler considers ravens to be some of the most intelligent animals in existence. 

The ex-Royal Marine, who served in Afghanistan and around the world for 24 years, has attended birding courses and received formal training for the post. 

"All the courses in the world can't replace being here, being among the birds and knowing their habits. You never know what they're going to do. They're all different in character. That unpredictability of them is the fun part of the job," Chandler says. . 

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