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  1. ITV Report

Queen's Windsor swans killed after suspected bird flu outbreak

The monarch is being kept informed Photo: Sang Tan/PA

It's feared more than 20 of the Queen's swans, from her Windsor flock, have died from bird flu.

Twenty more are seriously ill and also expected to die.

The monarch, who technically owns all unmarked mute swans in open water in Britain, is being kept informed.

The traditional Swan Upping ceremony takes place in the summer Credit: ITV Meridian

More than 20 swans have died now and there's a lot which are seriously ill which will die - well over 20 more. We are deeply saddened by the loss of these swans."

"We're waiting to hear from Defra, but yes it is bird flu. I'm sure the Queen would be concerned. You cannot do anything about it. It will burn itself out. They're wild birds and it is spread by wild birds and we've been very unlucky."

– David Barber, The Queen's Swan Marker
20 swans, from the Queen's Windsor flock, have died Credit: ITV Meridian

Defra confirmed that seven of the swans that died were being tested for bird flu.

An annual stock-take, known as Swan Upping, takes place each summer on the River Thames.

The ceremony dates back to the 12th century when the ownership of all unmarked mute swans in open water in Britain was claimed by the Crown in order to ensure a supply for feasts.

Seven of the dead swans are being tested for bird flu Credit: ITV Meridian

Today, the Queen exercises this right only on certain stretches of the river and surrounding tributaries.

As of the 30th January, there have been six findings of bird flu in wild birds in England.

But none in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.