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The Queen's Swan Marker David Barber
Transcript of The Queen's Swan Marker David Barber
David and his wife, Judy are based in the Thames Valley near Marlow where they have successfully built up a marine and manufacturing business. David has lived, worked and played on the river Thames since his teens and for more than 25 years has been involved in the ancient practice of ‘swan-upping’. Indeed, David occupies the grand position of the Queen’s Swan Marker and as such is a member of the Queen’s household reporting to the Lord Chamberlain.
It’s David’s duty to count the young cygnets each year and to ensure that the swan population is maintained. With the assistance of the Swan Warden, Professor Christopher Perrins of the University of Oxford, the swans are also given a health check.The cygnets are weighed and measured, and the birds are examined for any sign of injury (commonly caused by fishing hooks and line). The cygnets are ringed with individual identification numbers by The Queen’s Swan Warden, whose role is scientific and non-ceremonial.
The Queen's Swan Marker David Barber says things are looking "pretty good" so far, as the annual swan census gets under way on the Thames.
The introduction of David Barber
The history of the tradition
Swan Upping dates from as far back as the 12th century, when the Crown claimed ownership of all mute swans at a time when swans were considered an important food source for banquets and feasts.
There would be severe penalties if you were caught stealing such swans and for this reason they were specially marked (on their beaks as rings could be cut off) by those for whom right of ownership had been granted by the Queen. Nowadays, the swans are counted and marked (this time with rings), but rarely eaten except perhaps occasionally at State Banquets.
The current population of adult swans along the Thames is roughly 1,200. This number has varied from year to year but is much lower than in the 1950’s. The number of cygnets caught has declined in recent years partly because of the impact of fishing but also because recent flooding has washed nests away. Sadly, vandalism and attacks by dogs have also had an negative impact.In England all the swams were her!