GIBRALTAR (GibChronicle) The historic Ceremony of the Keys is to be held tomorrow Wednesday in Casemates Square, starting at 6.45 pm when the RG Corps of Drums and RG Cadet Corps of Drums will perform a 10 minute display prior to the parade. The event is a re-enactment of the locking of the gates to the Old Town and garrison of Gibraltar. The ceremony’s origins date from the Great Siege of Gibraltar, which started in 1779 when French and Spanish troops attempted to capture Gibraltar.>>>
The keys were kept by the Governor who would hand them to the Port Sergeant each evening at sunset, so that the four land entrances could be locked shut. The Port Sergeant with an escort consisting of several armed soldiers, fife and drums would then march to each of the four gates in turn.
He would be challenged by the sentry at the gate with the same words as used in London. Once all the gates were locked, the Keys would be returned to the Governor at The Convent. In the morning, the Port Sergeant would once again collect the Keys to open the town.
The ceremony was reinstituted in 1933 and is currently performed annually by the Royal Gibraltar Regiment.
At the firing of the sunset gun, the Governor of Gibraltar symbolically hands the Keys of the fortress to the Port Sergeant. The Port Sergeant, accompanied by an armed escort, marches away to symbolically lock the gates of the fortress for the night before returning the Keys to the Governor.