Hampton Court Palace
Swans are a common sight in England, but did you know that all unmarked mute swans in open water are owned by the Queen? It’s true--in the medieval period, swans were considered a delicacy only available to the Crown and those to whom permission to own or eat them was granted (only wealthy landowners need apply); despite tastes changing throughout the centuries, the law has remained. Currently her Majesty only exercises this right of ownership on certain stretches of the Thames and shares ownership with two companies--the Dyer’s Company and the Vitner’s Company--who were granted rights of ownership by the Crown in the 1400s. Every year during the ceremonial Swan Upping, swans are counted, apportioned among the three owners, tagged, and monitored for health. Originally tagging was done by cutting a symbol into the swans’ beaks with a metal instrument but today the much more humane method of placing a small metal ring around a leg is employed. The Swan Upping occurs over a five-day period the third week of July.