Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Queen Elizabeth orders her swans counted

Given the state of the world today what with loss of employment globally, famine, homelessness, war, you have to wonder about the timing of this news.

Queen Elizabeth, she who rules England, has ordered a counting of the swans, known as the annual "Swan Upping." Perhaps some people might use these words as a means in which to express their thoughts about the activity. Seems that the counting of the swans is a British tradition that dates back to the 12th century involving the counting of the swans on the Thames River.

One wonders why somebody - especially a royal - would want to know the amount of swans on any river, actually.

So y'see, the process involves the official Swan Marker, one David Barber, rowing up the Thames for five days(!) accompanied the the Swan Warden, one Christopher Perrins of the University of Oxford, wearing the special and traditional swan counting scarlet uniforms while counting, weighing and measuring adult and cygnets.

One wonders once again, if duplication could enter into the picture. I mean, how can one be sure that swan "A" for example, won't swim down the river and be counted as another swan. But I digresss.

According to custom, Britain's sovereign owns all unmarked, mute swans in open water, but the queen now exercises the right only on stretches of the Thames and its nearby tributaries.

Oh the angst of having one's swans limited to a territory!

This year Queen Elizabeth herself will be joining her team of Swan Uppers for part of the cencus. She will follow them up the river and visit a local school project on the whole subject of swans, cygnets and the Thames.

Yes but will Queen Elizabeth actually count the swans or just smile and do a royal wave?

Here's an older photo of a Swan Upper in full uniform checking (or counting) a swan and a story:

Just wondering why it's necessary for a/swan uppers to wear a uniform? British tradition one surmises.

Still, would have made a great skit for Monty Python.

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