Europe

King Charles III’s reign sees swans get new owner

King Charles III addresses both Houses of Parliament

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The King’s succession has already enacted many changes which have been clear to the public over the past few days. The Queen’s passing has seen changes in titles for the King, the Queen Consort and the Prince and Princess of Wales, to name a few.

However, other changes are much more discreet and written deeply in history, including that upon becoming Monarch, Charles inherited many swans from up and down the country.

On Monday, David Barber, the Queen’s swan marker of 30 years said: “The King has the right to claim any swan swimming in open waters, unmarked, if he so wishes.”

Mr Barber is now swan marker for His Majesty the King, and he added: “Not all the swans belong to the King.

“But if he wishes to claim them, he can, by the royal prerogative.”

The swan marker declined to comment on the average number of swans it is thought belong to the King.

In the Mediaeval ages, swans were considered a delicacy and so the ownership of swans by the wealthy was a major symbol of status.

Barber said: “Swans then were an extremely important food source and served up at banquets and feasts, really for the wealthy.”

He added: “As time went on, different people owned swans. The Crown gave them the right to them.

“And they had the young cygnets, and they would fatten them up for the Christmas feasts.

“Of course, today swans are no longer eaten, and it’s all a conservation and education exercise.”

King Charles III will share ownership of the white swans with ancient trade associations whose swans have a specific mark.

Mr Barber met the Queen numerous times while being her swan marker for three decades at both public and unofficial events.

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He was formally presented with the Royal Victorian Order by the Queen in 2014 and he spoke highly of his former boss.

He said: “She was a very, very lovely person. You could get on with her very well and she took a grand interest in all wildlife but swans as well.”

Barber noted his hope that the King would take over in the same manner, adding: “He’s very keen on conservation and all this type of thing, which is absolutely brilliant for us as well.

“So hopefully he will take a nice interest in the swan population. That will help us do our job.”

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