Queen Elizabeth II owns every dolphin in Britain and doesn’t need a driving license — here are the incredible powers you didn’t know the monarchy has
Did you know she is immune from prosecution? That she has her own personal poet, paid in Sherry wine? Or that she holds dominion over British swans and can fire the entire Australian government?
It’s true that her role as the British head of state is largely ceremonial, and the Monarch no longer holds any serious power from day to day. The historic “prerogative powers” of the Sovereign have been devolved largely to government ministers. But this still means that when the British government declares war, or regulates the civil service, or signs a treaty, it is doing so only on her authority.
And she still wields some of these prerogative powers herself — as well as numerous other unique powers, ranging from the surprising to the utterly bizarre.
Most famously, she owns all swans in the River Thames.
Technically, all unmarked swans in open water belong to the Queen, though the Crown “exercises her ownership” only “on certain stretches of the Thames and its surrounding tributaries,” according to the official website of the Royal Family.
Today this tradition is observed during the annual “Swan Upping,” in which swans in the River Thames are caught, ringed, and set free again as part of census of the swan population.
It’s a highly ceremonial affair, taking place over five days. “Swan uppers” wear traditional uniforms and row upriver in six skiffs accompanied by the Queen’s Swan Marker.
“The swans are also given a health check and ringed with individual identification numbers by The Queen’s Swan Warden, a Professor of Ornithology at the University of Oxford’s Department of Zoology,” according to the Royal Family website.