In the United Kingdom, whales are considered “royal fish,” and as such, they belong to the Crown upon being caught or landing upon the English shore. The rules evidently apply to dead and rotting beached whales, too.
In the BBC News article What happens after a whale is beached?, reporter Caroline Lowbridge describes how beached whales are (supposed to be) handled in the UK.
British law goes so far as to specify that the King gets the head and Queen gets the tail. Lest you think the Queen comes out behind on the deal, the queen “received the tail in order to be supplied with whalebone for her corsets and stays,” according to Wikipedia. (However, there is some confusion here; Moby Dick author Herman Melville claimed that “whalebone” was actually baleen, which comes from the mouths of certain whales.) Anyway, it’s not clear to what use the King may have put the whale’s head.
The article covers a number of other whale incidents in the UK and then wraps up — as every good whale article should — with a discussion of exploding whales.
When asked whether he’d ever blow up a whale in the UK, Rob Deaville, a manager with the agency that investigates whale strandings, replied:
“We don’t do that in the UK and we don’t advise that either, because you would be left with bits of whale over the beach which you’ve still got to clean up.”
Fess up Mr. Deaville! The real reason is you don’t want to have to tell the Queen that you blew up all the whalebone for her corsets.