Home entertainment Why does King Charles III own all the swans in the UK?

Why does King Charles III own all the swans in the UK?

Why does King Charles III own all the swans in the UK?

The story of King Charles III of England owning all the swans in the United Kingdom goes back to the Middle Ages. Indeed, according to ancient tradition, these elegant birds, symbols of wealth and greatness, belong to the crown, which has taken care of them for many centuries. In fact, he does not have all of them, but only the silent swans that swim freely in public waters and which are not described.

As told by David Barber, the sign of the swan (The Sign of the Swan), who worked for about thirty years for Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022), and now employs Charles III: «The king has the right to claim ownership of any swan that swims in open water, unmarked—it’s an ancient royal prerogative». A legacy from the Middle Ages still resists today: in fact, it is illegal to hunt mute swans, and whoever kills them will not be executed in the Tower of London, as in the past, but will face criminal penalties.

Royal monopoly. The tradition of attributing ownership of mute swans to the English crown dates back to the 12th century, when, to ensure a sufficient amount of meat at the frequent banquets scheduled during court festivities, monarchs had a royal flock of swans and official commissioners responsible for looking after their monarchy.

However, from 1400 the practice began whereby royal pelicans could be redeemed by those nobles able to pay a deductible. To distinguish “noble” swans from “royal” swans, the rule was applied whereby a symbol was engraved on their beaks to indicate that they belonged to a particular breed. So every summer, today in the third week of July, to avoid quarrels over the ownership of the animals, the Swan Master (who today took the name Swan Warden, Keeper of the Swans), a commissioner appointed by the judges, checked for brands and identified Royal Swans (real swans) all those specimens which belonged to no one else.

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simple condition. But why was swan ownership so desirable? Both because it is a status symbol and for culinary reasons. Starting from the fourteenth century, in fact, the swan regularly ended up on tables, as long as they were high-ranking tables: in the mentality of that time, those at the top of the social ladder had to feed on what was high in nature, that is, the birds.

Usually bloody. In old cookbooks you can still find instructions for its preparation: a beautiful swan was taken from the Thames and, after washing and plucking it, was boiled in a large kettle.

Then it was skewered and roasted. Two onions, finely chopped, were fried in copious lard, after which the chopped bird was added. Swan persisted on the most sophisticated tables for centuries until, around 1700, swan lost its reputation as a prized meat. The custom of marking swans continued in the following centuries, but this cruel practice stopped at the end of the nineteenth century, when Queen Alexandra of Denmark (1863-1910), wife of Edward VII (1841-19109, sanctioned the end of this barbaric tradition.

census. Now that swans are no longer on our tables, the meaning of the Swan Upping, a five-day census taken each year in July by the Swan Uppers, under the direction of Swan Marker (marker) David Barber and Swan Warden (swan guardian) ornithologist Christopher Perrin, is to protect the species. A ring equipped with a microchip is applied to one paw of the animal (the right one for the real animal, the left one for the others), linked directly to a database British Ornithological Trust. Department experts Zoology University of CambridgeIndeed, in addition to conducting a census of the swans and visiting them once a year, they constantly monitor their diet and lifestyle in increasingly polluted waters, such as those in the Thames.

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