Royal Swan Upping
The ceremony of Swan Upping dates from the twelfth century and takes place during the third week of July each year. It has always been the duty of the Sovereign's Swan Marker to count the young cygnets each year and to ensure that the swan population is maintained. With the assistance of the Swan Warden, the swans are also given a health check.
Swan Upping dates from medieval times when the Crown claimed ownership of all mute swans, which were considered an important food source for banquets and feasts.
Today the Crown retains the right to ownership of all unmarked mute swans in open water, but The Queen only exercises this right on certain stretches of the River Thames and its surrounding tributaries.
This ownership is shared with the Vintners' and Dyers' Companies who were both granted rights of ownership by the Crown in the fifteenth century. (The swans are counted but no longer eaten.)
The Queen's Swan Marker, accompanied by the Swan Uppers of the Vintners' and Dyers' livery companies, uses six traditional Thames rowing skiffs in their five-day journey upstream as far as Abingdon.
By tradition scarlet uniforms are worn by The Queen's Swan Marker and Swan Uppers, and each boat flies their appropriate flags and pennants.
The Queen's Swan Marker produces a report at the completion of Swan Upping each year that provides data on the number of swans accounted for, including young cygnets.
The cygnets are weighed and measured to obtain estimates of growth rates and the birds are examined for any sign of injury, commonly caused by fishing hooks and line.