This morning any walkers on the towpath between Boveney Lock and Oakley Court near Windsor may have seen the Queen on board the Alaska, the river’s oldest working steamer which was built in 1883.
Her Majesty was making her first visit to Swan Upping as the annual swan count is known. Her Swan Warden, Swan Marker and the Swan Uppers spend a week rowing upstream checking on the swans’ health as well as numbers.
I can remember when Swan Upping started at Temple Stairs on the Victoria Embankment in central London. In recent years it has started at Sunbury. This year for the first time the Monday morning start was as far upstream as at Eton Bridge.
This meant that the Swan Uppers missed Windsor’s Romney Lock where by tradition they stand in their skiffs to toast Her Majesty.
But as the Queen came in person so they were able to raise their oars in salute.
The swans are owned by the Queen apart from those in the care of Vintners Company and the Dyers Company who send along their own experts in skiffs to help out.
I think there are swans downstream of Berkshire.
Tonight the party has arrived in Cookham. Tomorrow night they will make it to Marlow.
Wednesday is night is Sonning, Thursday Moulsford and on Friday the count ends at Abingdon.
If you are walking upstream you can often keep pace or even overtake the floatilla if there are lots of birds.