The Meddling Prince has long been an influential and enthusiastic supporter of alternative medicine.
In 1993, he founded the now disgraced and defunct Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health, which lobbied for the inclusion of alternative medicines in the NHS (this has now been rebranded as the College of Medicine, though His Royal Highness no longer has any clear involvement).
In 2005, Professor Edzard Ernst criticised a draft report commissioned by the Prince, which had claimed the NHS could save between £500m and £3.5bn if there was a switch to alternative therapies. As Ernst quite rightly pointed out, this report was “outrageous and deeply flawed” and based on such poor science, it was hair-raising. Shortly afterwards, Clarence House alleged that Ernst had committed a serious breach of confidentiality. This led to him facing a year of disciplinary hearings and investigations, which could have resulted in his dismissal.
In 2006, Charles addressed the World Health Organisation in Geneva, urging governments to “abandon their conventional mindset” and develop a plan for integrating conventional and alternative medicine.
From 2005 – 2007, the Foundation for Integrated Health received a grant from the Department of Health to help organise the self-regulation of complementary therapies, resulting in the formation of the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (which still enjoys Department of Health funding).
By 2007, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency had received at least seven letters from Charles. The contents of these are secret, as are, for the time being at least, the numerous letters he has written to government ministers.
The Duchy Originals brand founded by Charles has been ridiculed for scientifically unsound claims made about its Duchy Herbals products. These include the Detox Tincture, produced to “help support the body’s natural elimination and detoxification processes“.
Prince Charles is also patron of the Soil Association and a big fan of organic farming. This may be well intentioned but it is sadly riddled with quackery, as this recent Guardian article points out. According to Soil Association Standards, organic farmers “must use complementary therapies and trace elements… provided that their healing effect works for the species and the condition you are treating”. Standard 10.10.21 even suggests the impossible – that you use “effective homeopathy” for mastitis in cows. Yet using effective, evidence-based medicine is frowned upon. Susan, a US sheep and goat producer wrote on her baalands blog that she believes “organic standards do not allow you to treat a sick animal with anything that is scientifically proven to be effective.”
Apparently, the Prince of Wales has even begun adopting some biodynamic farming practices on his Duchy Home Farm.
If you’re not sure what “biodynamic” means, I suggest you read this recent Quackometer post. It was no exaggeration to describe it as
the method of farming proposed by occultist Rudolf Steiner, who created the crypto-religious movement of Anthroposophy based on his clairvoyant visions and a racist view of human development, reincarnation, karma, astrology, homeopathy and gnomes.
But according to Duchy Originals Manager David Wilson, biodynamics has a lot going for it. He told the Sunday Times…
There is no doubt that if we plant certain seeds at the right phase of the moon they grow quicker and produce more vigorous plants.
I don’t know for sure whether Charles takes biodynamics seriously and I shouldn’t really care. Nor should I be especially interested in his misguided opinions on homeopathy or even Gerson Therapy.
But His Royal Highness chooses to meddle in politics. To make his views matter. And for that reason, I nominate the Prince of Wales for the Golden Duck Award.