Under the law of the United Kingdom, all Sturgeons are decreed ‘Royal Fish’ and are the personal property of the Monarch of the United Kingdom as part of his or her royal prerogative, if a Royal Sturgeon Fish is caught or found within the area of the UK shoreline. This UK shoreline area is known today as the Crown Estate.
The Monarch's right to the Royal Sturgeon Fish was recognized by a statute (Statute Prerogative Regis, 17 Edward II (AD 1324) ) and was enacted during the reign of Edward II. It was commonly known “de balena vero sufficit . . . si rex habeat caput, et regina caudam”: - “The King owns the Head, the Queen owns the Tail.”
The law of the Royal Sturgeon Fish still continues to excite, and occasionally causes some warm-hearted debate. We therefore decided to write to Buckingham Palace and kindly request some insight into this law, as current sustainable farming of sturgeon though compassionate aquaculture was not a form of farming undertaken in 1324.
Below is a copy of the fascinating and well-researched letter we kindly received from Sir Alan Reid GCVO, Keeper of the Privy Purse, on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen.