The Crown still owns royal fish (whales and sturgeons caught within territorial waters) and swans, and has rights to treasure (what used to be called treasure trove). This site on law for sixth forms, defining theft, summarizes it.
A bizarre report on the declining numbers of swans puts it down to their being caught and barbecued by asylum seekers. I suspect this is an exaggerated claim, projected from the two men caught in the act. The (London) Evening Standard reports. Via Ben Hammersley.
Of course, swans are counted every July, at least on the Thames, in the swan upping procedure. Are their numbers really so reduced?In an article on the Queen’s wealth, the Guardian gave more information:
bq. Take one famous example of a crown asset – swans. The question whether the crown still really owns all the country’s swans elicits a typically convoluted and confusing answer from the palace. “The crown retains the right to ownership of all unmarked mute swans in open water, but the Queen only exercises her ownership on certain stretches of the Thames and its surrounding tributaries,” says a spokesperson.