English Police Hunt Person Who Killed And Barbecued One of Queen’s Swans

220px-Mute_Swan_Emsworth2170px-Robin_shoots_with_sir_Guy_by_Louis_Rhead_1912There is an investigation afoot in England where someone felled one of the Queen’s swans, plucked it, and barbecued it on the riverbank near Windsor Castle.  In a throwback to the age of Robin Hood, all swans in England remain the property of the Crown and, until 1988, killing a swan was an act of treason.  The Mute Swans remain protected under law.

Notably, swans were kept as a delicacy to be eaten by the King and Queen. It appears that someone stepped above their station and decided to have a meal fit for a King.

What struck me as curious about this story (beyond the obvious) was the statement of the government in news reports that “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.” That creates a rather odd criminal law — all swans belong to the Queen but she only “exercises” ownership along certain areas of the Thames. How would someone know that? Is it still a crime in areas that turn out not to be one of those where the Queen’s claim is “exercised”?

Once again, I remain surprised that our English brethren continue to maintain a royal family with such lingering prerogatives. However, if you insist on having a royal family, it might be useful to have clarity. In this case, the law seems to suggest that you cannot hunt swans on not just the Queen’s land but on any land . . . but it may or may not be enforced.

22 thoughts on “English Police Hunt Person Who Killed And Barbecued One of Queen’s Swans

  1. The Queen’s powers are greatly diminished today in practice but a monarch still has a lot of potential power. So, if you get a good one, real tyranny against the people, like that Barack guy in Zambia…. Oh! no! its a North American country near Canada, kind of a rogue country with a Robert Mugabe copycat leader, … if you got this guy proposing drone strikes instead of trials, no demonstrations or free speech in his presence, murdering first graders to confiscate the peoples legal guns. or passing a law that allows anyone to be detained indefinitely (or knocked off) without trial, well you might have a better chance. Well I wouldn’t want to live in a country like that!
    The swan thing is no big deal; a protected species, rather like the bald eagle. Treason was a bit strong but can you imagine if Hispanic immigrants got a taste for barbecued bald eagle all over this country; what WOULD the Republicans have to say to that!

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