SHEPPERTON, England (Reuters) – Royal officials clad in scarlet outfits took to the River Thames in traditional boats on Monday for the annual “Swan Upping” ceremony, an 800-year-old tradition of counting the swans owned by Britains Queen Elizabeth.
Officials take a break during the annual counting of the Queen's swans, known as 'Swan Upping' along the River Thames in London, Britain July 15, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Teams in old fashioned skiffs will row up a stretch of the river over the next five days to carry out the annual census of the birds, shouting “all up” when they come across a mute swan and its family.
The swans and their young cygnets are then counted, weighed and checked for injury.
“I am pleased to see that the breeding season has begun very well this year with a high level of nesting activity on the river,” said David Barber, the queens Swan Marker.
The ancient ceremony dates back to the 12th century when the English crown first claimed ownership of all mute swans, which have long curved necks, orange beaks and white feathers and were then considered a delicacy that would be served at banquets.
Nowadays, Britons no longer eat swans which are protected by law and the upping ceremony of has become more about wildlife conservation and educating children.
Barber said there were a high number of swans dying or their nests being destroyed as a result of dog attacks, which had led to appeals to dog walkers to keep their pets under control.
The queen shares ownership of mute swans on the Thames with the old trade associations of the Vintners and Dyers who also join in the upping.
However, the monarcRead More