Bizarre tradition might see King Charles eat a bloodsucking parasite pie

Bizarre tradition might see King Charles eat a bloodsucking parasite pie
King Charles III leaves Windsor Castle following Queen Elizabeth II's committal

As the new monarch, there are different traditions King Charles III has to partake in - and one of them may include eating a bloodsucking parasite pie.

These parasites are Lampreys - a type of jawless fish that have a phallic shape with teeth lining the inside of their wide, circular mouth and suck the blood and various other fluids of their host fish.

(Yes, you read correctly this is baked into the pie).

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It's a tradition within the British monarchy that dates all the way back to the Middle Ages up until Queen Elizabeth II as the lampreys are viewed as a delicacy.

The story goes that King Henry I died after eating one too many of the parasites, according to Reading Museum. However, it's widely believed he actually died from blood poisoning.

The pie is traditionally supplied from the city of Gloucester where lamprey pie is made as a mark of respect to the monarch and is baked for special celebrations such as coronations and jubilees.

"It was a sign of wealth. It was a sign of respect. And in fact, it was the duty of the city of Gloucester to do that, starting in the middle ages," Marc Gaden, a deputy executive secretary for the Great Lakes Fishery Commission told TODAY.

Lampreys (one seen above) are blood-sucking parasites that a baked into a pie as part of a long-standing royal traditioniStockphoto by Getty Images

However, King Charles may decide to skip the parasite pie (and who could blame him) as Gaden noted: “Over time, of course, it became more ceremonial than requirement."

Over the years, lamprey's have declined in population too making it trickier to source the fish for the pies, with the Queen's 25th Jubilee in 1977 being the last pie that had UK-sourced lamprey.

So when there was a lamprey shortage for the Queen's 50th Jubilee in 2002, Gaden's services were requested to find parasites from aboard.

"It was one of the strangest phone calls I ever received on the job," he told TODAY.

"It was like, ‘You’re gonna think this is funny, but can we have some of your lampreys so we can make a pie to give to Queen Elizabeth?’ I was like, ‘What?’"

Garden added how it was requested that the fish be sourced from Canada, given the country's ties to the British Monarchy and has provided the royal family with this fish on special occasions ever since such as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and her Sapphire Jubilee in 2017.

“We just froze them and sent them by expedited mail,” Gaden explained. "And then the city of Gloucester had some people that looked back at Old Naval recipes and how to make the lamprey pie, and they made the pie in the old tradition."

He also noted how the pies were never meant for consumption, so perhaps King Charles doesn't have to tuck into one after all...

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