Monday, 15 July 2013

"HM The Queen, Seigneur of the Swans!"

Swan Uppers Toasting "HM The Queen, Seigneur of the Swans"
Whilst we all await the eagerly anticipated royal birth, we should not forget that it is very much "business as usual" for the Royal Calendar.  Today marks the start of the ancient ceremony of Swan Upping. Dating back to the 12th century, the ceremony involves the Crown claiming ownership of all unmarked mute swans on the open waterways. Although no longer eaten, historically swans were a prized delicacy (both for meat and for feather quills) and thus reserved for the Monarch and the aristocracy. Since the 15th century the Crown has shared ownership of the swans with two ancient Livery Companies of the City of London: The Worshipful Company of Vintners and the Worshipful Company of Dyers.

The annual Swan Upping Ceremony takes place over five days in the third week of July. The ceremony has The Queen's Swan Marker, the Royal Swan Uppers and the Swan Uppers of the Worshipful Company of Vintners and the Worshipful Company of Dyers travel up the river Thames in six traditional rowing skiffs. The Queen's Swan Uppers are dressed in scarlet uniforms with historic flags flying from the boats. The Swan Uppers of the livery companies wear blazers and white trousers.

When the Swan Uppers sight a brood of cygnets they cry "All up!" and steer the boats into position. The cygnets are then weighed, marked, measured and, after a health check by The Queen's Swan Warden, released.

Upon passing Windsor Castle, all of the rowers stand to attention in their boats and salute "Her Majesty The Queen, Seigneur of the Swans".

In 2009 The Queen, as "Seigneur of the Swans" attended the Swan Upping ceremony. This was the first time a Sovereign had attended in several centuries.

No comments: