In a Recession, One Counts Swans Oneself

Queen becomes first monarch to undertake centuries-old census
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 21, 2009 5:40 AM CDT

(Newser) – With Britain still stuck in a biting recession, Queen Elizabeth is doing a bit of her own home economics—yesterday, she got on a barge and became the first monarch to undertake the annual counting of the swans. Traditionally the Queen owns all the swans on the River Thames, although a few permissions have been granted over the centuries. But until yesterday, reports the Times of London, she had never done the headcount herself.

These days the so-called Swan Upping is motivated by conservation, but Elizabeth's predecessors guarded their swans zealously in order to fatten them up for dinner. It's been a while since anyone has eaten swan at a royal banquet, one man observed: "Swan was regarded as a great delicacy. But it is vastly overrated. It tastes like fishy goose."