When Prince Albert died in 1861 at the age of 42, his wife, Queen Victoria was very upset. She never again wore anything but black in public. As another sign of mourning, she introduced black swans to a lake on the grounds of Rosenau Palace, Prince Albert’s birthplace in central Germany. The tradition of keeping black swans there has continued to this day, and recently, a female black swan found herself in need of a new companion following the apparent death of her partner in the jaws of a fox. Swans famously mate for life (though divorce is possible).
And so, as the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports, caretakers earlier this month posted a call for help on a government website, requesting a black swan, of either sex and ideally over three years of age, as a new companion. A breeder in Ingolstadt, about two-and-a-half hours south of the palace, responded within days and provided a nine-month-old black swan to the palace.
On Thursday, a palace official told Deutsche Welle that so far everything looks good. “Both swans are swimming happily on the lake,” he said. “It’s going well.”
Officials won’t know the new swan’s gender for more than two years, when it turns three. Though, as they said in the original ad, “The sex of the animal isn’t important.” They just want an end to the loneliness.