The annual ceremony of Swan Upping has been cancelled for the entire week – for the first time in hundreds of years - because of the flooded River Thames

The historic ceremony dating from the twelfth century should have started on Monday (July 16th) and lasted until Friday. The first day had been called off but there were hopes that it would start from Cookham on Tuesday.

But an announcement on Monday evening said the whole event had been cancelled because of the dangerous state of the river.

Danger 'red board' warnings are in place along most of the Thames from West London to Oxfordshire advising boats to keep off the river because of the strong stream following recent heavy rain.

The Queen’s Swanmarker David Barber said: “It is very disappointing but navigation warnings are in force along the river and we cannot take chances.

“It is the first time in hundreds of years – including during the war – that Swan Upping has been cancelled in this way but safety must be a priority.

”We must take into consideration the [ Swan Uppers'] boats themselves plus the support boats. Unfortunately It just not possible for it to go ahead."

The royal Swan Uppers in colourful traditional uniforms row up the river from Sunbury-on-Thames in Surrey to Abingdon on Oxfordshire taking a census of swans, checking their health and marking young birds.

The Queen still retains the right to ownership of all unmarked mute swans in open water, but only exercises her ownership on certain stretches of the Thames and surrounding tributaries.

Today this ownership is shared with the Worshipful Company of Vintners and the Worshipful Company of Dyers.

Link to Royal Swan Upping website

Story dated: July 16th 2012




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