LONDON (AP) _ The first raven to be hatched at the Tower of London in three centuries made its public debut Friday, said the keeper, who proclaimed that because of the birth England was safe.

Legend warns of the destruction of the kingdom should the ravens ever leave the tower.

''Now we have the knack of breeding them here, there are no worries for the empire,'' said Yeoman Ravenmaster John Wilmington. ''Royalty, the fortress and England are safe.''

The raven chick was born in the shadow of the White Tower on May 1 but was kept out of sight for its own protection. It is the first chick to be born to ravens bred in captivity in the tower.

''I am over the moon,'' said Wilmington as he fed his ravenous young charge scraps of raw meat. ''It is the first time a raven has been born at the Tower since the reign of Charles II.''

Ravens have always lived at the Tower and, according to history, there were so many during Charles II's reign that he decided to get rid of them.

It is said he was advised to keep some of the birds, and the legend about the destruction of the empire is believed to date from that period.