The bird called Merlina has not been seen at the medieval palace for a few weeks. According to a spokesman for the Tower, “her absence indicates that she has sadly passed away”. He adds, “Merlina was the undisputed leader of the group, the queen of the Tower ravens.”
Royals fall over
Legend has it that if there were fewer than six ravens surrounding the building, the British royal family and fortress itself would fall over. King Charles II even issued a decree to ensure that at least six people would always be present. Winston Churchill once interfered with the animals when there was only one left.
Currently there are seven remaining ravens at the Tower of London, so the royals are safe for now.
Christopher Skaife, the traditional raven master who takes care of the birds, said he was mourning the loss of Merlina. “I know many of you are saddened by this news,” he wrote on Facebook. “No one more than me. That’s why I will be absent for a few days.”
The Tower of London says it does not yet intend to appoint a replacement for Merlina. A breeding program was started in 2018 to keep the group of birds up to standard. In May of 2019, for the first time in thirty years four chicks are born.
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