LONDON-With Covid-19 sweeping the UK, Brexit causing chaos, and increasing support for Scottish independence, the UK hardly needs folk prophecies to tell them that their country is in a difficult situation.
But they were still given one in 2021.
Legend has it that at least six crows must be kept on the Tower of London, otherwise the kingdom will fall. On Wednesday it announced that one of these birds, Merlina, was missing and may have died.
This means that the despicableness of the tower’s crow-the proper Gothic collective noun for birds-has been reduced to 7, and therefore dangerously close to the minimum.
Chris Skaife, the master crow master of the Tower of London, told the BBC on Thursday: “My concern is obviously taking care of the kingdom.”
The story of the crow is usually attributed to King Charles II (Charles II), who ruled the country in the mid-1600s. Legend has it that he was told that the bird would fall if it left, and he insisted on keeping the bird in the tower.
The Tower of London dates back to 1070 and has served as a fortress, prison and palace throughout all periods of history. At least one king and perhaps two young princes were murdered within the walls.
Today, this is the hometown of the crown jewels (a collection of robes, crowns and other royal nobles whose value is estimated to be billions of pounds), and of course the legendary crow. It is one of the largest tourist attractions in the world, with more than 3 million tourists every year in the non-coronavirus era.
Skaife has a crow tattoo on his calf and lives in the wall of the tower. He said in a previous interview that the crow myth was actually invented by Tata himself as a marketing tool in the 1880s.
As one of the court guards, known as the “Yoman Watcher”, his job is to take care of the birds, feed them meat from the local market and dip them in blood-stained biscuits.
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Skaife put the crows in bed before the UK entered the latest national lockdown earlier this month and noticed that Merlina had not returned.
The Tower of London said in a statement that she has now been missing for two weeks and “continued absence to show us that she may have passed away unfortunately.” She said that she was “the undisputed ruler of the habitat” and called her the “Queen of Tower Crow.”
Six of the seven crows remain on the tower site: Jubilee, Harris, Gripp, Rocky, Irene, and Poppy.
The statement said: “We hope to breed a new chick from our breeding program to meet the daunting challenge of continuing its tradition.”