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It gets brought up on The Crown, so what actually is the deal with the royals and swans?

I need to know if it’s really true that the Queen ‘owned’ every swan in England

The Crown has finally addressed some real drama and has brought up the long believed tradition that the Queen and the royals own all swans in England. Has anyone else just believed this for their whole life without really questioning it?

In episode six of The Crown season six, Queen Elizabeth is working with prime minster Tony Blair to try and improve the public image of the monarchy. As part of this, Blair suggests cutting some less necessary costs, bringing in some royal staff and asking the queen if they’re really necessary.

One of these members of a staff is a “warden of the swans” who fights for his role as being vital for the country. So, what actually is the true deal with the royals and swans, and how accurate is this part of The Crown?

The Crown and if the royals really own swans

via Netflix

Right, what actually is the deal with the royals and their swans?

So, did the Queen “own” all the swans in the country, and does King Charles now have the same ownership? It appears the common belief is mostly true, but the royals don’t “own” the swans as such, they family just has control in being able to claim them should they want to.

As far back as the 10th century, swans have been considered a major marker of societal rank. This came from the days of when a swan was considered a rare delicacy, and was eaten. Eating swans was then made illegal in 1981, and they were protected as wild birds.

According to the official Royal Family website, the Crown has held the right to claim ownership of all unmarked mute swans swimming in open waters across the country since the 12th century. It’s believed this legislation came into place when swans were being eaten at lavish banquets and feasts, and valuable rights of ownership were granted by the monarch.

The Crown calls the warden of the swans one of the oldest roles within the monarchy staff. It’s true there is someone whose dedicated job is to look after swans.

Whilst he’s not called the warden of the swans, an article in The New York Times last year referred to a “Royal Swan Marker” called David Barber, who has served for the family for nearly 30 years.

The article explains his role as “a sort of swan ambassador responsible for keeping track of the population during an annual count called the ‘swan upping’.” David told the publication he believes King Charles will continue Queen Elizabeth’s tradition with the birds.

The royal family holds a five-day ceremony on the River Thames each July to perform a census of the local swans, with David being frontline in the efforts.

Speaking of the event, the official royal family Instagram posted: “Once a mostly ceremonial event, it now plays an important role in the conservation of the mute swan. The health of adults and cygnets is assessed by the Royal Swan Marker, and any injuries are treated before the swans are released.”

The Crown season six is available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, drops, quizzes and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook. 

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