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
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT)
Hamas' tactics have changed -- now the group is using commando-like tactics, says CNN's Ben Wedeman.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1540 GMT (2340 HKT)
Some contend that larger weapons have come into Ukraine from Russia.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 2151 GMT (0551 HKT)
A nun, an AIDS researcher, an athlete and a family traveling on summer vacation. These were some of the victims aboard MH17.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 0021 GMT (0821 HKT)
Prince George isn't your average one year old. He started walking before he was one. Oh, and, he's going to be king -- of 16 countries.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1136 GMT (1936 HKT)
Former President Bill Clinton acknowledges he got "very close" to helping achieve peace in the Middle East.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 0621 GMT (1421 HKT)
In an ambitious plan to upgrade urban India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he will build 100 "smart cities" across the country.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1127 GMT (1927 HKT)
Inspirational, creepy or just weird? CNN meets the 51-year-old man who dresses like a schoolgirl.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1100 GMT (1900 HKT)
A British nanotech company has created what it says is the world's darkest material.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1112 GMT (1912 HKT)
Yoga, meditation and watching a snake eat a frog alive: these are some of the experiences to be had at this Himalayan yoga retreat.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1152 GMT (1952 HKT)
The world's largest flying aquatic insect, with huge, nightmarish pincers, has been discovered in China's Sichuan province, experts say.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT