Here's What Queen Elizabeth's 'Warden Of The Swans' Really Does

The British Royal Family has all sorts of extremely specialized positions staffed by various individuals, several of which might sound bizarre to the ears of commoners. As reported by Business Insider, just some of the niche jobs that exist at Buckingham Palace and other residences and organizations headed by Queen Elizabeth II and her family include The Queen's Bargemaster (in charge of royal barges), Piper to the Sovereign (must play bagpipes under the Queen's window every weekday at 9 a.m.), and Warden of the Swans.

Until 1993, the Keeper of the Swans was responsible for both the job of the Warden as well as the Marker of the Swans, but now the two positions work in tandem to perform "swan upping." Per The Queen's Swan Marker website, swan upping "plays an important role in the conservation of the mute swan and involves The Queen's Swan Warden collecting data, assessing the health of young cygnets and examining them for any injuries." The Royal Swan Uppers wear scarlet uniforms and travel via skiff to perform the annual swan census.

The UK's mute swans all belong to Queen Elizabeth II

As reported by The Guardian, Queen Elizabeth II "owns all the UK's mute swans, but only exercises her right of possession around Windsor," which is where the warden, marker, and uppers carry out their work. When they row their skiffs past Windsor Castle, they "salute "Her Majesty the Queen, Seigneur of the Swans in a time-honored ceremony."

Per the pamphlet Royal Swan Upping For Children, the journey via skiff is 79 miles long and takes five days. When the personnel come across a group of swans, they surround the birds with their skiffs, lift them out of the water, check them for signs of injury, treat them as necessary, and count the number of cygnets, before returning them to the water.

According to The Royal Society website, Professor Christopher Perrins LVO FRS (in the photo above, front row, left) was appointed the first Warden of the Swans and continues to hold the position to this day. He is "a biologist renowned for his work on avian population ecology and, in particular, reproductive rates."