A small juvenile female fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) was found dead stranded at Holkham in Norfolk on 20th October 2016. It was in poor nutritional condition and with it's spine damaged.
Under an ancient law of the United Kingdom, whales like this Fin whale are "Royal Fish" and when stranded on any public beach become the personal property of the monarch as part of her royal prerogative. Under current law , the Receiver of Wreck is the official appointed to take possession of royal fish when they arrive on English shores. The law of royal fish continues to excite some notice and occasional controversy, as evidenced when a fisherman caught and sold a sturgeon in Swansea Bay in 2004.
While taking these pictures I could not help thinking that Her Royal Highness The Queen Elizabeth own state at Sandringham is only a few miles away from where this whale stranded.
As I stood on the beach on this sunny Autumn day I could not help but to make a metaphorical connection between "Royal Fish”, Her Royal Highness and the “otherness” of one of the fastest creatures on Earth.
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