Royal Swan Markers—and Other Odd Traditions of the British Monarchy

The announcement of the royal birth served as a reminder of just how much, despite their common past, Britain and America differ in their cultural heritage.

A new heir to the British throne was born today. While the occasion has made it easier than usual for Americans once again to get caught up in the celebrity worship of an institution our country repudiated at its founding, it's also made it easier than usual for Americans to forget just how alien some of the customs around the British monarchy are.

Fortunately, the monarchy runs an Instagram feed that serves as an almost-real-time reminder. Some examples below.

The Queen's Press Secretary and a footman post the official announcement of the birth of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's baby on an easel in Buckingham Palace forecourt: The Queen's Swan Marker examines a swan at the annual Swan Upping: The Queen waves to waiting crowds and departs the Thistle Foundation in Edinburgh, drawing Holyrood Week 2013 to a close:

Regimental Mascot Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders L Cpl Cruachan Howe Barracks #BritishMonarchy:

Presented by

Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor covering national politics at The Atlantic.

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