LONDON – U.K. police were on Wednesday investigating the killing and apparent barbecuing of one of Queen Elizabeth II’s swans.
The bird was butchered, burned and stripped of its flesh before the carcass was dumped on a riverbank near Windsor Castle, west of London, police said.
Swans were historically served as a delicacy at banquets in Britain but they have had legal protection under British law since 1981. A law dating from the 12th century claimed ownership for the crown of all swans in England, and killing or injuring one of the birds used to be classed as treason.
The British crown has right of ownership of “all unmarked mute swans in open water,” but the queen now only exercises that right on certain stretches of the River Thames and its tributaries, according to the British monarchy’s website.