The Royal Pelicans

Posted: July 3, 2013 in Birds, History, London, Natural History, Post medieval history, UK
Tags: , , ,

Many people have heard about the Royal Swans, which can be found on the upper reaches of the river Thames, but I wonder how many people know about the Royal Pelicans.

The pelicans can be found on the lake in St James’s Park in central London, which lies between the old Palace of Whitehall and the current Buckingham Palace.

St James park lake looking towards Buckingham Palace

St James park lake looking towards Buckingham Palace

The story of the pelicans date back to the mid-17th century. Charles II had recently landscaped St James’s Park to include a canal like body of water. One of his main reasons for doing this was to have a ready source of duck meat for the nearby Palace of Whitehall. There was even a house built for the Royal keeper of wildfowl beside the water, the most recent of which can still be seen today.


In 1664 the visiting Russian ambassador presented Charles with two pelicans, which the King added to his collection of wildfowl in the Park. This tradition has continued through the centuries to the current day. The most recent addition was a gift of three great white pelicans by the city of Prague in March of this year. This brought the current total of pelicans present on the lake to 6.



The canal built by Charles II was later remodeled to the classical lake that we see today.

  1. I love the pelicans too – especially the way they come and pose for the tourists. 🙂

  2. […] More details about the story of the Pelicans and the Royal Waterfowl collection can be found at […]

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