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Swan Imposters Spotted on Royal Lake

Guests attending a tea party at Buckingham Palace recently were admiring the swans on the lake when they realised that there was something odd about them. On closer inspection, the serene looking swans turned out to be plastic! One of the visitors even began to suspect that the birds were remotely controlled!

So why are there plastic swans floated on the royal lake?

Decoy Swans

It turns out that the swans have been deployed to ward off Canada geese. The geese are regarded as pests in the palace grounds as they exhibit aggressive behaviour, are noisy and leave a huge volume of droppings. The plastic swans are placed on the lake during the summer to scare off the geese as there are no real swans nesting in the grounds of the palace.

Swans are territorial birds which will fight off intruders. The geese won’t want to risk taking on the swans and so will choose to land at another location.

Ownership Myth

There is a myth that the Queen owns all of the swans in the UK but this isn’t the case. The crown does have the right to claim ownership over mute swans but only those which live on the Thames in London.

The crown shares this right with two livery companies, the Vintners’ Company and the Dyers’ Company.

Swan Upping

Every summer a ceremony called swan upping is performed on the Thames. The birds are caught by representatives of the queen and the livery companies in order to complete a census of the birds, to mark them and to perform health checks. The Queen has only watched the ceremony once during her reign and that was in 2009.

During the ceremony, swans captured by swan uppers representing the livery companies are marked, those captured by the Queen’s swan uppers are left unmarked except for a ring linked to the database of the British Trust for Ornithology.

Swan Upping has been performed every year for over 900 years. The only exception was the cancellation of the ceremony in 2012 because the river was flooded after a period of extreme weather.

The 2017 Swan Upping ceremony took place in July and revealed an increase in the number of cygnets present.

Swan for Dinner?

There is another myth that the royals dine on swans. Whilst this may have happened in the past, swans are not eaten by the royal family these days!


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