Den Grimme Ælling


One of the Hertford Seven – almost a swan

It’s good to see the Hertford cygnets doing so well. It just seems a few days since they made it into The Mercury, when they decided to stage a sit-in on Bull Plain near the town centre. Now, they’re almost swans.

But they’ve never, ever been ugly. Never. Ever. I won’t have it.

I’ve always taken extreme exception to the cygnetist propaganda and defamatory ducklingism in Hans Christian Anderson’s Ugly Duckling (Grimme Ælling).

But there’s more to the tale than meets the eye – or beak, or whatever.

According to a recent biography, Anderson looked frighteningly like a duck when he was a child – big hands and feet and a beak-like nose.

Like the duckling, he was an outsider.

And there’s now speculation that Andersen was in fact the illegitimate son of the Crown Prince of Denmark. He discovered this just before he wrote the story. So, the inner swan metaphor stood not just for inner beauty, but for secret royal lineage.

Could this be why the Hertford cygnets tried to storm the town centre in July? Are they related in some way to the Knights Templar? Do they know something we don’t?