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 2:51 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Sky gazers caught a glimpse of the "blood moon" crossing the Earth's shadow Tuesday in all its splendor.
updated 12:24 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Oscar Pistorius didn't consciously pull the trigger the night he shot and killed his girlfriend, the sprinter testified at his murder trial.
updated 5:16 PM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Officials are launching their next option: an underwater vehicle to scan the ocean floor.
updated 8:54 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
A mysterious new artwork has appeared in Cheltenham, where Britain's version of the NSA is located.
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Like many parents across Liverpool, the McManamans waited. 25 years ago, it was all they could do.
updated 9:24 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
The Maltese Falcon makes a swift turn while at sea.
How do you design a superyacht fit for the billionaire who has everything money can buy?
updated 11:48 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Pop art condoms in Kenya
Packaging can change how people see things. And when it comes to sex, it could maybe help save lives too.
updated 11:42 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
mediterranean monk seal
Africa is home to much unique wildlife, but many of its iconic species are threatened.
updated 11:09 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
A staff stands next to the propellers of Sun-powered plane Solar Impulse 2 HB-SIB seen in silhouette during its first exit for test on April 14, 2014 in Payerne, a year ahead of their planned round-the-world flight. Solar Impulse 2 is the successor of the original plane of the same name, which last year completed a trip across the United States without using a drop of fuel. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
This solar-powered aircraft will attempt to circle the globe next year.
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Most adults make the mistakes of hitting the snooze button and of checking emails first thing in the morning, writes Mel Robbins.
updated 1:14 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
... not in Italy. In fact, it's thousands of miles away.
updated 8:43 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Ebola victims usually come from remote areas -- but now the lethal virus is in a city of two million.
updated 9:40 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
ADVERTISEMENT