THE QUEEN'S OWNERSHIP OF SWANS
The Queen owns all of Britain's Mute swans. The monarchy's ownership of mute swans dates back to the twelfth century, when they were considered a delicacy.
In the fifteenth century, the Crown granted livery companies Vintners and Dyers some rights of ownership of mute swans.
Traditionally the swans belonging to each company were marked on the beak every year in a ceremony known as swan-upping, which still takes place on the river Thames every year in the third week of July. Nowadays though it is used to monitor swan populations.
The monarchy's swans were marked by a royal Swan Marker. The position is still held today, but the Queen's Swan Marker's job now includes advising organisations on swan welfare and incidents involving swans such as vandalism.
The Queen still owns all unmarked mute swans in open water – but only exercises these ownership rights on some parts of the Thames and its tributaries.
As native wild birds, swans also enjoy statutory protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is an offence to intentionally injure, take or kill a wild swan.