Skip to main content

Police investigate after queen's swan found barbecued

By Saskya Vandoorne and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
August 22, 2013 -- Updated 2022 GMT (0422 HKT)
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
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1443 GMT (2243 HKT)
A captured fighter tells CNN's Ivan Watson: "They gave us drugs... that made you go to battle."
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 1331 GMT (2131 HKT)
A terminally ill woman who plans to take her own life checks off the last item.
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 2340 GMT (0740 HKT)
In a plot straight out of Hollywood, federal agents gain access to a suspected Triad boss' Vegas hotel room by pretending to fix the Internet connection.
October 31, 2014 -- Updated 0434 GMT (1234 HKT)
Was it only black and Latino men who harassed a woman in NYC? The filmmaker has found himself in a race controversy.
October 31, 2014 -- Updated 0317 GMT (1117 HKT)
The history of human rights often overlooks the struggles of gay people. This must change.
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 0115 GMT (0915 HKT)
Armed with Kalashnikovs and chanting for the dead comrades, women are among ISIS' most feared enemies. They are fighting for their families -- and now they are getting U.S. help.
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1246 GMT (2046 HKT)
Lere Mgayiya put his best foot forward and set up a shoe-shine firm after his career plans fell flat.
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 0528 GMT (1328 HKT)
One Chinese drone manufacturer wants to take away the warmongering stigma of "drones."
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 0312 GMT (1112 HKT)
Sketcher Luis Simoes is traveling the world -- slowly. And he's packed his sketchbook.
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 2043 GMT (0443 HKT)
European states help North Korea's brutal treatment of its people by allowing luxury goods like cars and cognacs to evade sanctions, two experts say.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0345 GMT (1145 HKT)
Chinese leaders want less odd architecture built in the country.
October 31, 2014 -- Updated 1104 GMT (1904 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT