Skip to main content

Police investigate after queen's swan found barbecued

By Saskya Vandoorne and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 4:22 PM EDT, Thu August 22, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Police say a swan was found killed and burned over the weekend
  • All mute swans in England and Wales belong to Queen Elizabeth II
  • "It's an act of vandalism which shouldn't happen," says swan charity worker

Windsor, England (CNN) -- The remains of a swan have been found barbecued near Queen Elizabeth II's castle in Windsor, police said.

By law, all unmarked mute swans in England and Wales belong to the queen.

The swan had been killed and burned over the weekend, Thames Valley Police said. Its remains were found Sunday by a local council officer, who contacted police.

The incident is being investigated as a theft, a police statement said. Anyone with information is urged to get in touch.

Wendy Hermon, of the charity Swan Lifeline, told CNN of her disgust and puzzlement at the crime.

"It's an act of vandalism which shouldn't happen," she said. "The most sickening thing about all this is the swans will go to people because they think they are going to feed them. ... I always say they are semidomestic because they trust us, so it's going into a trap."

The majestic white birds are a fairly common sight on the River Thames, which flows past Windsor and on to London.

According to the official website of the British monarchy, all mute swans have belonged to the Crown since the 12th century, when they were regarded as a delicacy and eaten at banquets.

"Today, the Crown retains the right to ownership of all unmarked mute swans in open water, but the queen only exercises her ownership on certain stretches of the Thames and its surrounding tributaries," it says.

Each year, a census is carried out of the swans on stretches of the Thames in the counties of Middlesex, Surrey, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire, it says. This practice is known as swan upping.

CNN's Saskya Vandoorne reported from Windsor, and Laura Smith-Spark wrote in London.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:35 PM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
The possibility of pockets of air remaining within the hull of the sunken South Korean ferry offers hope to rescuers -- and relatives -- say experts.
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Despite hundreds still missing after the sinking of a South Korean ferry, reports of text messages keep hope alive that there may be survivors yet.
updated 12:14 PM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
An Iranian mother slaps and then forgives her 17-year old son's murderer in dramatic scenes at the gallows.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Mentions of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests or political reform are still censored in China.
updated 5:31 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Russia's propaganda worse now than at height of Cold War, says Leon Aron, director of Russian studies at AEI.
Sanctions imposed against Russia are working as a deterrent, President Barack Obama and other White House senior administration officials said.
updated 12:40 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
A lack of progress in the search for MH370 is angering the families of victims.
updated 11:09 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
The searches for the Titanic and Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 share common techniques.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
An "extraordinary" video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.
updated 11:35 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
This year's Pyongyang marathon was open to foreign amateurs.
updated 8:30 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Explore each side's case, reconstructed from Pistorius' court affidavit and the prosecution's case during last year's bail hearing.
updated 1:53 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
How are police preparing for this year's 26.2-mile marathon, which takes place Monday?
updated 1:02 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Katrina Karkazis
Romance is hard, for anyone. For people with intersex traits, love poses unique challenges.
updated 5:26 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
The "kill switch," a system for remotely disabling smartphones and wiping their data, will become standard in 2015.
updated 11:52 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
ADVERTISEMENT