Tower of London's Queen raven is missing... but enough remain to prevent the fall of the Kingdom...

14 January 2021, 12:36 | Updated: 14 January 2021, 16:18

The Tower of London's "Queen" raven is missing and feared dead, but seven ravens are still in residence preventing the fall of the Kingdom.

The raven Merlina was first noticed to be missing when all the ravens were being put to bed - several weeks ago.

Legend says there needs to be at least six ravens in the castle, and if they leave, then both the Tower and the Kingdom will suffer.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Ravenmaster Christopher Skaife said: "Merlina is a free-spirited raven and has been known to leave the tower precincts on many occasion. I'm her buddy and she normally comes back to us, but this time she didn't. So, I do fear that she is not with us any more."

He added: "But we do have seven ravens here at the Tower of London, six by royal decree and of course I still have a spare one, so we're OK at the moment."

Charles II is thought to have insisted on the Tower's ravens to be protected, after he was warned that the crown and the Tower itself would fall if they left.

The Tower of London said they didn't have any "immediate plans to fill Merlina's vacancy" but hoped that a new bird from their breeding programme would be up to the "formidable challenge of continuing her legacy".

In a statement on Twitter, the Tower added: "Since joining us in 2007, Merlina was our undisputed ruler of the roost, Queen of the Tower Ravens.

"She will be greatly missed by her fellow ravens, the Ravenmaster, and all of us in the Tower community."