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Nevermore? Tower of London’s “queen” raven goes missing and is feared dead

One of many Tower of London’s ravens, the conspiracy of birds whose destiny is claimed to be intertwined with that of Britain, is lacking and feared lifeless, the royal palace mentioned Thursday.

“We’ve some actually sad information to share,” the Tower introduced on its web site, referring to the lacking corvid as “Queen of the Tower Ravens.” “Our much-loved raven Merlina has not been seen on the Tower for a number of weeks, and her continued absence signifies to us that she might have sadly handed away.”

Ravens are native to the realm, and may develop greater than two toes lengthy with a wingspan of as much as 51 inches. In line with folklore, if there are fewer than six ravens left to protect the tower, each the dominion and nation will collapse.

However Yeoman Warder Ravenmaster Chris Skaife, who takes care of the birds, assured nervous Britons already battered by the coronavirus pandemic and the Brexit divorce that the nation was protected — for now.

“Clearly, because the ravenmaster, my concern is taking care of the dominion,” he informed BBC Radio.

“However we do have seven ravens right here on the Tower of London, six by royal decree and naturally I nonetheless have a spare one, so we’re OK in the meanwhile.”

The decree, purportedly issued within the seventeenth century, said there should be six on web site at anybody time. The tower’s web site notes that the ravensmaster trims the flight feathers of the massive black birds “to encourage them to remain on the Tower.”

Skaife informed AFP in an interview in October final yr he normally retains two as “spares,” “simply in case,” and that Merlina was his favourite.

Merlina, described by the tower because the “undisputed ruler of the roost,” was final seen on the historic palace by the River Thames a number of weeks in the past.

“Simply earlier than Christmas, earlier than we went into the lockdown, we had been placing the ravens to mattress, and she or he did not come again,” mentioned Skaife.

He described Merlina as a “free-spirited raven that has been identified to go away the Tower precincts on many event.”

Nonetheless, he added, “she usually comes again to us, however this time she did not so I do concern that she will not be with us anymore.”

Merlina grew to become an web favourite from Skaife’s frequent posts and movies of her on his Instagram and Twitter accounts, which have greater than 120,000 followers.

The seven remaining ravens in captivity within the Tower are Poppy, Erin, Jubilee, Rocky, Harris, Gripp and George. The tower’s web site notes ravens are clever birds with distinct personalities who can mimic sounds, play video games and clear up issues.

Skaife, a former workers sergeant and drum main within the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, confronted an unprecedented problem entertaining the Tower’s celebrated avian residents in the course of the coronavirus lockdowns final yr.

The birds instantly discovered themselves with nobody to play with — or rob meals from. He raised fears the birds would fly away to attempt to discover meals elsewhere.

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