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King Charles III

First annual royal swan census of King’s reign gets underway

King Charles has another first in his reign.

The first Swan Upping of this new reign has begun. 

In the United Kingdom, the monarch has the right to claim any unmarked mute swan swimming in open waters. They have the official title of “Seigneur of the Swans.” 

Each year, a team completes a census of the swan population on specific stretches of the River Thames to count the number of new cygnets for that year and to check the health of older swans. This census is formally known as Swan Upping. 

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David Barber is The King’s Swan Marker, and he and his team of wan Uppers of the Vintners’ and Dyers’ livery companies began their five-day census on Monday, 17 July. 

Barber had previously served as The Queen’s Swan Marker for 29 years; he and his colleagues have received updated uniforms and flags to note the change in sovereign. 

The tradition of swan upping dates back to the twelfth century when royals would consume swan meat. However, it is no longer simply a ceremony now, even though swans have not been consumed by the royals for centuries. The practice allows conservationists to better track the swan population over longer periods of time.

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