Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Why Royals Do Swan Upping

If you had to guess what “Swan Upping” meant, what would you say? Go ahead, Take a gander. Here’s a hint: it has nothing to do with one-upping a swan, because let’s be honest, swans will always win whatever game you’ve got going on.

Give up? Swan Upping is basically the royal version of census taking. And it’s all the royal Rage. Originally the swans would be part of a feast, but the meat has fallen from favor and they are released to enjoy their freedom.

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The British Crown enjoys ownership of all unmarked mute swans in open water. Rights over swans may, however, be granted to a British subject by the Crown (accordingly they may also be claimed by prescription). Until the 16th century, the ownership of swans in a given body of water was commonly granted to landowners. The tradition of swan upping on the Thames began in the 12th century.

The royal website has more information about the activity.



Only two companies still have swan marks: Vintners’ Livery Company and Dyers’ Livery Company.

Swan Upping is now less about census taking and more about waterfowl education and conservation. The swans are weighed and checked for any signs of injury and illness.

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Vogue reports that the last time the late Queen was spotted at a Swan Upping was back in 2009.


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