Royal Swan Upping

Swan Upping plays an important role in the conservation of the mute swan and involves The King’s Swan Warden collecting data, assessing the health of young cygnets and examining them for any injuries. Cygnets are extremely vulnerable at this early stage in their development and Swan Upping affords an opportunity to help both adults and cygnets that might otherwise go untreated.

The Royal Swan Uppers, who wear the scarlet uniform of His Majesty The King, travel in traditional rowing skiffs together with Swan Uppers from the Vintners’ and Dyers’ livery companies. Many schools are invited to meet the Swan Uppers on their journey up river. The children involved may have the opportunity to view cygnets at close quarters and ask questions about swans, the boats used and The King’s ownership of mute swans. The participation of school children is a positive element of Swan Upping and their enthusiasm for wildlife is always to be encouraged.


David Barber with Children from Hampton Court
Queen Elizabeth II speaking to school children about their projects on the subject of the conservation of swans.

Education plays an important role in Swan Upping today.  Working with the River & Rowing Museum, Henley on Thames on projects for primary school children has resulted in a learning resource covering a wide spectrum of the national curriculum, enabling schools to focus on a number of distinct subject areas revolving around the river’s ecology and geography and the habitat it provides for so much of our wildlife. 

The range of subjects covered by this resource includes the biology of the mute swan, the boats used during Swan Upping and, of course, the Royal connection to Swan Upping which can be traced back for many hundreds of years.  This collaboration is continuing with the aim of producing further material for use by schools in the future.

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal travelling with the Swan Uppers

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal travelling with the Swan Uppers as they carry out an assessment of the health of the Thames swan population

Click here to enter the official website of the British Monarchy for further details about swans and Swan Upping.

The King’s Swan Marker, David Barber, is available for a limited number of illustrated talks on the subject of Royal Swan Upping. To find out more, please email the office of The King's Swan Marker at

Click here to download the Swan Upping children’s educational brochure.
Click here to download the Royal Swan Upping booklet.