The Null Device

Animals belonging to the emperor

Britain's foremost composer is being investigated by police after preparing to roast and eat a swan at his Orkney home. Sir Peter Maxwell Davies claims that the swan was already dead, having presumably been killed by hitting power lines, and that it is a common Orkney tradition to collect and eat thus killed swans. In England, that may have been illegal in itself, as mute swans are the property of the Queen, though this law does not apply in Scotland.

There are 9 comments on "Animals belonging to the emperor":

Posted by: Adam http:// Sat Mar 19 01:41:51 2005

I dealt with that "property of the Queen" stuff when I was on a British Indian Ocean Territory once.

As a US citizen asking you Brits: Doesn't that monarchy stuff in this day and age give you guys the creeps? Or is there something deeper than only someone born there could understand?

Posted by: acb Sat Mar 19 02:06:53 2005

I personally am Australian, and regard it as amusing. From what I gather, a lot of Britons regard it with affection. I imagine it is a deeper thing; being a national institution, most people care more about its existence than its actual content. Case in point: all the absurd ancient ceremonies, such as at the opening of parliament.

Btw, I take it you served in the military at Diego Garcia then. Am I right? And what was property of the Queen there?

Posted by: ojsbuddy http:// Sat Mar 19 03:49:28 2005

sounds like Alabama roadkill

Posted by: Adam http:// Sat Mar 19 09:41:38 2005

Yep Diego Garcia. Strange that they didn't say the government owned the animals, they specifically said the "queen".

There were feral donkeys and cats all over the island from the old plantation days. A member of my group got a fine from the Brit police stationed there for sticking scotch tape to the bottom of the cat's feet and watching it walk in that ever-so-amusing way. No damage done and wasn't cruel by any means, but they took it very seriously for some reason.

I guess in the US we were raised on the idea that you can own the land, but not the wild animals that roam on it. They are considered to be "protected and managed by the State", but not owned by anybody specific.

Posted by: Adam http:// Sat Mar 19 09:58:04 2005

Call me a "subject" and get shot. I'm a citizen.

Along that train of thought, that's why I am suprised that the Brits are not at least slightly offended by the monarchy. Maybe it's pride in history and tradition, but it seems like an ugly history. Somewhat like if I displayed a painting in my living room of my great great grandfather whipping slaves who worked in his cotton field. The idea that the monarchy by grace of God owned everything, and that you were just some piece of crap that they "allowed" to exist. The bowing and disrespecting yourself, etc. Hard to believe they still go for that as proud as they seem to be. Also, every Brit I've ever met seemed to be pretty intelligent to me.

Posted by: acb Sat Mar 19 22:06:59 2005

All the official forms I've seen in Britain refer to "British citizens". I think that Britain is essentially a republic with a national soap opera instead of a President. And one pragmatic argument for such a state of affairs is that having an essentially powerless figurehead monarch whose role is to own swans and make official appearances removes one possible centre of power from the hands of ambitious politicians and power-brokers.

Re: Diego Garcia: I read a rather interesting book titled "Outposts", by Simon Winchester, which is an account of him visiting all the remaining parts of the British Empire. (I.e., all the bits of land managed from London.) In it he describes the abandoned towns and houses.

Posted by: acb Sat Mar 19 22:08:43 2005

And I don't think anybody seriously bows and scrapes to the Queen; the general mood seems to be a mixture of affection and bemusement, and some ridicule as long as the institution looks sufficiently unthreatened to take it.

Posted by: Graham Sun Mar 20 05:51:10 2005

Who the hell would eat a swan, anyway? I thought the the general consensus was that they were pretty bad eating.

Posted by: Adam http:// Tue Mar 22 02:23:38 2005

Yeah, Diego Garcia was a beautiful, remote, and interesting place. Used to be a corpa plantation, now home to a big US Navy base, a handful of Brits, a really long airstrip, ship refueling station, Navy comm relay station, and an Air Force observatory.

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