King and Queen duck out of ancient tradition in tour of Channel Islands

Queen Elizabeth II was presented with two mallards on a silver tray when she visited Jersey in 2001, a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages
Queen Elizabeth II was presented with two mallards on a silver tray when she visited Jersey in 2001, a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages - FIONA HANSON/PA WIRE

The King and Queen will be presented with locally laid duck eggs in place of the traditional dead ducks as they embark on a tour of the Channel Islands next week.

The couple will undertake a two-day tour of Jersey and Guernsey to highlight a relationship between the Channel Islands and the Crown that stretches back centuries.

The visit will take in Jersey potatoes, Jersey milk, traditional Guernsey jumpers, known as “Guernseys”, and some rare Golden Guernsey goats.

King Charles III and Queen Camilla will travel to Jersey on July 15 and then Guernsey the following day
King Charles III and Queen Camilla will travel to Jersey on July 15 and then Guernsey the following day - CHRIS JACKSON/AP

However, in one significant break with tradition, the presentation of two dead ducks on arrival has been scrapped.

Instead, the King will be gifted locally laid duck eggs as a symbol of sustenance.

It will form part of the homage paid on the royals’ arrival at the Royal Square in St Helier on Monday by five senior seigneurs, or lords of the manor.

When Elizabeth II visited Jersey in 2001, she was presented with two mallards on a silver tray as part of an ancient tradition dating back to the Middle Ages when six seigneurs would pay homage to the sovereign as the Duke of Normandy.

The decision to replace the dead ducks with duck eggs was taken by Jersey officials, in consultation with Buckingham Palace, in recognition of changing times, The Telegraph understands.

St Helier's Royal Square features a statue of George II in Roman dress
St Helier's Royal Square features a statue of George II in Roman dress - PATRICK DONOVAN/MOMENT RF

Just as the late Queen did not take the dead ducks home, the King will not be packing the duck eggs in his suitcase.

Instead, he will touch the bowl that the eggs are in before they are accepted on his behalf by the Receiver General, the King’s representative on the islands.

The King and Queen will also be introduced to “the best of Jersey” at a special Jersey Expo event, which will include Jersey cows and Jersey Royal potato farmers.

They will participate in a miniature version of the Genuine Jersey Royal Potato Growing competition, in which local primary school children have taken part for 17 years, vying for prizes in two categories: greatest yield and greatest crop weight.

The following day, on Guernsey, the King and Queen will be treated to a showcase of the island’s culture, featuring traditional dancers and produce including ice cream made with milk from native cows, as well as seafood, cider and ales, and the Guernsey jumpers.

They will also visit Les Cotils, a Victorian country house, where the King will see some rare Golden Guernsey goats.

The breed, distinguished by their golden skin and hair, is considered “at risk” on the rare breeds watchlist.

Rare breed saved from oblivion

In 1924, a local woman called Miriam Milbourne rescued the Golden Guernsey goats from oblivion after she discovered some in the scrub herds of the island.

During the Second World War, when Guernsey was occupied, most of the goats were killed. Ms Milbourne risked her life to save the herd by hiding them for several years at her home.

The King is patron of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, an organisation devoted to achieving a secure future for Britain’s native livestock breeds.

The monarch’s title of Duke of Normandy dates from when William the Conqueror’s son, Henry I, seized the Duchy of Normandy, including the islands, in 1106.

At official functions, islanders raise the loyal toast to “the Duke of Normandy, our King”.

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