As a nation, the United Kingdom is subject to countless strange and archaic rules and regulations. One of these traditions decrees that the Queen is the official owner of each and every swan in England and Wales (and, apparently, can stake a claim to any sturgeons, whales, porpoises and dolphins swimming in UK waters). An unusual perk of the job, no?
Now, it seems that the Queen’s status as owner-in-chief of the UK’s swan population might be causing her some emotional turmoil, as over 20 of the birds in her Windsor flock have reportedly succumbed to an outbreak of bird flu sweeping the country.
Reports suggest that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) are investigation the avian flu outbreak.
‘Over 20 swans have died now and there’s a lot which are seriously ill which will die – well over 20 more,’ explained David Barber who, as the Queen’s official Swan Marker, is responsible for carrying out an annual census of the royal swans, a tradition known as the Swan Upping which dates back around 800 years.
NOW READ: Prince Harry And Meghan Markle's Relationship Timeline
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle met in London in July 2016.
They were introduced by mutual friend Markus Anderson, who is the director of Soho House.
In October 2016, the Express became the first newspaper to publish news that Prince Harry had a new girlfriend.
On November 8th 2016, Kensington Palace released an unprecedented statement which referring to Markle as Harry's girlfriend for the first time.
In the statement, Prince Harry condemned the 'wave of abuse and harrassment' faced by Markle, saying that he was 'worried about Ms. Markle's safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her.'
'It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms. Markle should be subjected to such a storm,' the statement continued.
The couple were papped together for the first time in December 2016, shopping for a Christmas tree in London at the Pines and Needles store.
Later that week, they were seen on London's West End, catching a performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
In February, Prince Harry wore a his 'n' hers bracelet on the cover of Town & Country magazine, just weeks after Markle was pictured wearing the same one on Instagram.
In March 2017, Meghan joined Prince Harry in the Caribbean for the wedding of his friend's Tom 'Skippy' Inskip and Lara Hughes-Young.
It was the first time that Markle accompanied Harry to a wedding, marking another milestone occasion for the couple.
The first public event attended by the couple was the polo at Coworth Park in May 2017.
Later in May, Markle attended the party portion of Pippa Middleton's wedding to James Middelton.
Prince Harry was seen driving her to the event after the church ceremony.
The couple made their first official public appearance in September, when Markle attended the opening of Prince Harry's Invictus Games.
Meghan wore a maroon midi dress with a pleated chiffon skirt by one of her favourite Canadian brands Aritzia.
She teamed it with a matching burgundy biker jacket by Mackage.
Although Prince Harry was sat next to First Lady Melania Trump at the event, rather than his girlfriend, she was only seated a few rows behind him.
The couple were photographed together the following day at the wheelchair tennis.
Much was made of Markle's choice of outfit: ripped jeans and a white blouse called 'The Husband'.
The couple 'broke with royal protocol' by holding hands and appearing affectionate while at the Invictus Games.
Prince Harry reportedly spent time with Meghan's mother Doria while at the Games too.
The couple indulged in some PDA at the closing ceremony.
Prince Harry was photographed kissing Meghan.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Meghan referred to Harry as her boyfriend numerous times, saying: 'We're a couple. We're in love. I'm sure there will be a time when we will have to come forward and present ourselves and have stories to tell, but I hope what people understand is that this is our time.'
In late September 2017, it was reported that Meghan had met the Queen, prompting speculation that the relationship was getting serious.
In early November 2017, it was reported that Meghan Markle was leaving Suits after seven series.
In mid-November 2017, bookies suspending betting on an impending royal engagement, as speculation grew that an announcement was about to be made.
On November 27th 2017, Prince Charles announced the engagement of his younger son Prince Harry and Meghan Markle after 15 months of dating.
The couple later appeared at a photocall, with Markle wearing a white dress coat by Canadian brand Line The Label. The website has subsequently crashed.
The engagement ring, by Cleave and Company, was reportedly designed by Prince Harry himself, using two stones that belonged to Princess Diana.
When asked by waiting photographers if the proposal was romantic, Harry joked 'of course!'
‘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,’ he said. ‘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.’
While some commentators have expressed concern that the Windsor outbreak might impact upon Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, which will take place at St George’s Chapel in May, this is very unlikely. The chances of avian flu being transmitted from birds to humans is very low, meaning that preparations for the ceremony are likely to carry on regardless.