Merlina is gone.
It flew away from the Tower of London weeks ago and has not been seen since.
The female raven, 14 years old and in office since 2007, was considered the queen of the Tower ravens.
On this Wednesday, the raven master of the tower sadly announced that Merlina was probably dead.
“She's an unconventional raven and is known to leave the Tower often.
Since I am her caregiver, she usually comes back to us.
But not this time, ”said Christopher Skaife on BBC radio.
Said the raven: Never more.
Farewell to Merlina
Here you will find content from Twitter
In order to interact with or display content from Twitter and other social networks, we need your consent.
Activate social networks
I consent to content from social networks being displayed to me.
This allows personal data to be transmitted to third party providers.
This may require the storage of cookies on your device.
More information can be found here.
The alleged animal loss opens the door to dire speculation.
Because the ravens in the tower are extremely important for England's self-image.
Without Merlina the number is reduced to seven.
And legend has it that if fewer than six ravens live in the Tower, the kingdom will perish.
No one in Great Britain can use such an omen at the moment, it is difficult enough with Covid and Brexit.
Raven master Chris Skaife with one of the ravens at the tower
It is not entirely by chance that the Tower Ravens stay nearby, their wings are clipped
Source: picture alliance / WILDLIFE
The magnificent seven are now of course more eyed than already, there are Poppy and Georgie, both part of the new Tower breeding program, as well as Harris, Gripp, Rocky, Erin.
In 2012, for the diamond jubilee of King Elizabeth II, the female Jubilee was added.
That's why there were eight birds last.
Raven master Skaife had built a fox-safe steel dwelling for the ravens when he took office in 2011.
He lives in the Tower with his wife.
In a book he raved about Merlina, who could imitate the calls of other birds and gulls, but preferred to live as a loner than in a group.
The female particularly liked to watch tourists who ate Pringles - and stole them.
Ravens are actually carnivores.
They are fed raw meat from the market early in the morning, recently with hearts from chickens, lambs and pigs, as well as peanuts and biscuits soaked in blood and fish.
The good diet is said to benefit the royal ravens and keep them from pillaging the nearby trash cans.
A former raven master stated that he was also fed capsules with cod liver oil in winter, that is the secret of why the ravens are so healthy.
The birds cared for in this way can live up to 40 years, much older than their wild counterparts.
They wear colored ribbons so that they can be easily distinguished.
Chris Skaife feeds the ravens hearts from chickens and mice early in the morning
The Tower, the Guardians and the Ravens - Poster from 1969
Source: picture alliance / Mary Evans Pi
As with all royals, the representative office has its disadvantages.
A harsh method has long been used to keep the precious animals at the tower.
The Raven Masters regularly trimmed the birds' right wings so that they could not fly, only hop or glide briefly.
This is another reason why generations of tourists have been able to photograph the Tower Ravens.
Only Christopher Skaife, who had previously served in the army for 24 years, changed the tradition.
It also trims the wings, but a third less so that flights are possible.
Only one bird, Munin, had ever escaped but was caught and brought back by passers-by.
The legends of the tower ravens supposedly go back to the 17th century.
King Charles II's astronomer complained about bird droppings on the instruments.
However, the king refused to remove the ravens when he heard the prophecy that the Tower, the monarchy and the kingdom would perish as soon as the ravens were gone.
The fact that ravens lived in the Tower had something to do not only with the walls; they have always been associated with executions that took place there.
In any case, Charles II is said to have ordered that six ravens always live there.
For centuries nothing more was heard of this arrangement, although people did deal with the tower and the ravens.
The legend did not reappear until the Second World War and has been cultivated ever since.
When the bird flu reached France in 2006, the ravens were brought inside the tower and protected - out of fear that they could become infected and all of them perish.
It turned out differently.
It is uncertain whether the kingdom's fall is imminent, but hard work is being done to ensure that at least the ravens are not to blame.
Ravenmaster Skaife has stated that he has a spare raven to fill in;
For now, however, he wants to mourn and wait to see if Merlina still shows up.
In May 2019, four raven chicks hatched in the tower for the first time in 30 years.The parents were ravens Hugin and Munin, named after the mythical ravens that sit on Odin's shoulders.