The Swan Uppers are on their way to Goring-on-Thames
The Queen’s Swan Marker is on his way upstream for the traditional Thames Swan Upping ceremony, together with the Swan Uppers of the Vintners' and Dyers' Livery Companies and they should reach Goring Lock at 4.15pm today (Thursday).
They left Eton bridge on Tuesday morning.
Dating from the 12th century, the annual ceremony of Swan Upping takes place during the third week of July and is now an important element of wildlife conservation.
By tradition scarlet uniforms are worn by The Queen's Swan Marker David Barber and Swan Uppers, and each of the six traditional Thames rowing skiffs flies the appropriate flag and pennant.
It has always been the duty of the Sovereign’s Swan Marker to count the number of young cygnets each year and ensure that the swan population is maintained. The cygnets are weighed and measured and the birds are examined for any sign of injury, commonly caused by fishing hook and line.
With the assistance of The Queen’s Swan Warden, Prof Christopher Perrins of the University of Oxford, the swans and young cygnets are also assessed for any signs of disease. The cygnets are ringed with individual identification numbers by The Queen's Swan Warden, whose role is scientific and non-ceremonial.
In the 12th-century The Crown claimed ownership of all mute swans, an important food for banquets. Today The Crown retains the right of ownership of all unmarked mute swans in open water, but The Queen mainly exercises this right on certain stretches of the River Thames and its surrounding tributaries. This ownership is shared with the Vintners' and Dyers' Livery Companies who were granted rights of ownership by The Crown in the 15th century.
The Swan Uppers schedule for today, Thursday July 22 is:
Sonning Bridge – 8.45am (departure point)
Caversham Lock – 10.15am
Mapledurham Lock – 12.30pm
Goring Lock – 4.15pm
Moulsford – 5.15pm