Why all swans in Great Britain belong to the monarch

Posted on Jul 1, 2021      75

All swans in the rivers and lakes of Great Britain really belong to the monarch. The reverent attitude to swans dates back to the 15th century and is connected not with any beautiful legend, but with the gastronomic preferences of the nobility of those times. Swan meat was considered a royal delicacy, and the common people were strictly forbidden to eat it. So in 1483 a decree was issued, forbidding the inhabitants to breed swans. In 1496 a year in prison and a heavy fine were imposed for a captured or stolen swan egg. The breeding of swans was only allowed by royal license to a narrow circle of people.

Over time, even a special system of marks was developed, which were carved on the beaks of birds so that anyone could identify who belonged to a particular swan. If there was no mark on the beak, it meant that the bird belonged to the king.

By XVIII century swan’s meat ceased to be valued and considered “royal”, and in connection with the increased activity of defenders of animal rights the practice of tagging swans gradually died out. But the tradition according to which the majestic birds belong to the monarch, i.e. the Queen of Great Britain, has been preserved.

Now, however, it is believed that the Queen of Great Britain belongs only to swans living on the Thames and its tributaries. To remind subjects of this, once a year there is a ceremony called the Swan Inventory, when swans on the Thames are caught, ringed and released, counting. In 2009, Queen Elizabeth II became the first monarch in centuries to attend this procedure in person.

The cavalcade of dinghies sails past Windsor Palace and, raising their oars, proclaims the centuries-old slogan “Long live the monarch, lord of the swans!”

By the way, sturgeons, whales and dolphins living in British territorial waters are also the property of the Queen. This, too, is an ancient law - it was passed in 1324.