Queen Elizabeth’s Gift to Lakeland

By: Christopher Follenus

Since Feb. 4, 1957, swans gifted by Queen Elizabeth have graced Lakeland’s Lake Morton. It was an incredible act of kindness by the royal, who passed 65 years later on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022. She was 96.

Historically, swans had always called Lakeland home. Early migration patterns from the Northeast and Midwest United States to Lakeland can be traced back to the earliest records kept in the United States. However, by 1954, between predators and disease, no swans were found in the Swan City.

Enter a former Lakeland resident living abroad – Mr. and Mrs. Pickhardt – who appealed to the queen. Touched by the story, two of the royal flock were taken from their roost along the Thames River outside London and transported first by ship to the United States, then flown to Drane Field Airport – now Lakeland Linder International – and met by an entourage including the mayor and the chamber of commerce who brought the swans to their new home. They were released on the lake on Feb. 8, 1957. Except for a brief moment when the male swan flew the coop for a couple of days, they have remained on the lake ever since.

Visit lakelandgov.net to keep up to date on the swans, their nesting seasons and more.

Queen Elizabeth's Gift to Lakeland. A fmaily film's two swans on the lake

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