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." (Read more swan stories.)