A five-year-old girl who wrote to the Queen to ask if she could keep a swan as a pet for the weekend has received a reply from Buckingham Palace.
Lyndsay Simpson promised Her Majesty that she would look after the bird at home, and told her she would keep it in the bath.
She decided to write her letter after her mother Jennifer Bax, 35, told her that the Queen owned all the swans.
Jennie Vine, a deputy correspondence co-ordinator at the palace, thanked her for the request and said that the Queen had taken a “careful note” of her comments.
However, she explained that the belief that the Queen owned all swans was a common misconception dating back centuries, adding: “Her Majesty owns mute swans and only exercises her right of ownership over swans on certain parts of the River Thames.”
Ms Vine said that the Queen was encouraged to hear of Lyndsay’s love of swans, and sent her a booklet on swan upping, an annual ceremony where the birds are caught, tagged and released.
Ms Bax, from Petersfield in Hampshire, said that her daughter was delighted with the response.
“My daughter Lyndsay has always loved swans and she has always asked me if we could have one,” she said. “I told her the Queen owns them, and she suggested that if she wrote her a letter she might let her have one for the weekend.”
The family got a response in the post a few weeks later on August 23. While the letter did not address directly the advisability of keeping a swan in the bath, it went on: “It should be remembered that as native wild birds, swans now enjoy statutory protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
“The Queen was encouraged to know of your interest in our native birdlife and thought it kind of you to write as you did.”
When Lyndsay was asked what she would feed the swans, she said: “Whatever the Queen feeds her swans.” Asked if she would be sad at having to return the swan, she replied: “No, I will just ask the Queen again if I could borrow it as I would have looked after it very well.”