Swan Upping and (left) Her Majesty's Swan Marker
David Barber with primary school pupils

The Queen's Swan Marker has been honoured in the New Year's Honours.

David Barber from Cookham has been awarded an MVO - becoming a Member of the Royal Victorian Order.

He was appointed to the Royal Household post, which dates back to the twelfth century, ten years ago. Besides his role in charge of the annual Swan Upping census along the Thames he works closely with welfare and conservation groups.

Earlier we reported how an educational project on Swan Upping for primary schools along the Thames had been announced.

The River & Rowing Museum working with David Barber launched an education resource pack inspired by the heritage of Swan Upping and its related conservation work.

Hands-on learning experiences explore all aspects of the annual event through loan boxes, learning packs, downloadable resources, workshops and contemporary film.

The project announced by the Henley museum is to mark The Queen's Diamond Jubilee. It follows successful collaboration between the museum and the Swan Upping community including Mr Barber, the Swan rescue charity Swan Lifeline and Oxford University.

A thousand resource packs will be distributed to primary schools throughout the Thames Valley to enable them to understand the event and the challenges of river conservation.

Besides studying the birds, topics will include the history of Swan Upping, how it has changed and why it is relevant today. Children will be able to touch swan feathers and learn from a swan skeleton, skiff boat parts, swan upping uniforms and swan marking rings belonging to the ciry livery companies.


Only The Vintners and Dyers Companies and The Queen are allowed to claim Mute swans on the River Thames. The Swan Uppers work closely with the Oxford University Zoology Department to monitor the welfare of the birds. 

The River & Rowing Museum has a Swan Upping Exhibition, open until May. It includes a large number of objects on loan from The Queen. Through a comprehensive series of stories, artefacts and film footage, visitors learn about the lives of Swan Markers and the annual swan count – an event steeped in Royal tradition.

Visit for more information.

More on Swan Upping on the Royal website

Story updated Jan 4th 2014

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