The Weird Reason Queen Elizabeth Owns So Many Whales

Queen Elizabeth, by right of her royal lineage, owns a great many things. Palaces. Works of art so numerous that they could accurately be quantified via acreage. Trafalgar Square. And you'd think that would be enough, right? If Charles Dickens taught us anything, it's that at a certain point, a person has to look at their personal holdings and say, "That'll do." But no. It's not enough. Not for the queen. Apparently, her majesty also needs to own all of the whales off the coast of Great Britain. 

Yes, Queen Elizabeth II technically owns each and every whale within three miles of the coast of the United Kingdom. The marine mammals in question are not, to the best of anyone's ability to determine such things, aware of their status as "basically giant corgis that can hold their breath longer than usual."

So why does Her Majesty own them? Is it because she thinks they're Whelsch? It's probably not that.

The Queen of Whales

According to Time, this weird whale-owning situation all goes back to a 1324 statute courtesy of Edward II, stating that all "whales and sturgeons taken in the sea or elsewhere within the realm" are the property of the crown. That's how we got the designation "fishes royal": sturgeon, porpoises, dolphins, and whales caught within five kilometers of U.K. coastlines fall under the umbrella of "technically the queen's." This also goes for any of the aquatic beasties that wash onto the shore. Whether this means that Elizabeth, now well into her 90s, spends her work week alone on the shoreline trying to push beached orcas back into the ocean, remains unclear.

Unfree Willies aside, the queen also lays claim to a number of other creatures. All of the swans in the Thames could, technically, be sold by the royal family to a dog food factory if they came upon hard times. Per the CBC, Elizabeth also owns all of the numerous bats in her summer home, Balmoral Castle in Scotland. So basically, if a nonagenarian vigilante operating out of the United Kingdom ever goes into seclusion at the same time that Elizabeth retires to her vacation digs, we'll all know what's going on.