‘I was told I was a complete idiot’ about organic farming, Charles said the day before he became king | King Charles III


King Charles III said he was considered a “complete idiot” for wanting to farm organically, but he was right about his concerns about the impact of antibiotic use in conventional farming.

During one of his last official engagements as Prince of Wales the day before the Queen died, Charles spoke of his long-standing concerns that the widespread use of antibiotics could lead to increased resistance in insects and viruses.

He said: “One of the reasons I went organic 40 years ago was because I felt there was an overuse of antibiotics. And I felt that if you overdo it, you end up with resistance. Anyway, it happened. I was told I was a complete idiot for even suggesting going organic.

The King farmed organically at Home Farm near his Highgrove residence in Gloucestershire, but in 2020 it was announced he would not be renewing the lease as he prepared for greater royal responsibilities. He continues to farm organically on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk. Organic farming methods strictly limit the use of antibiotics.

Speaking at a global allergy symposium at Dumfries House in Scotland, the King said he was concerned about expert evidence that Western lifestyles may have contributed to the reported global rise in allergies.

He said: “It seems to be spreading more and more as people adopt a Western way of life. And what’s so sad is that people are still adopting this way of life when we have discovered the damage it has already caused.

King Charles has suggested he supports concerns that modern homes may be over-sanitized, potentially reducing exposure to microbes that can benefit health. He said: “When I was little, if I dropped my food on the floor, I was encouraged to eat it. I was told “it was good clean dirt, it won’t hurt you at all”. Now it’s gotten crazy, I think, the other way around.

The September 7 meeting is significant because it was perhaps the last time Charles was willing to speak so candidly about his personal opinions. He said in a 2018 interview that he would stop speaking out on matters close to his heart when he becomes king.

Many environmentalists say the king was vindicated by many of his warnings about the risks of plastic waste and the “gases pumped out by endless cars and planes”. Charles was just 21 when he gave a landmark speech on the environment at a campaign conference in Cardiff in 1970. He warned presciently of the impact of pollution, emissions of gas and overpopulation.

He said: ‘When you think of the 55 million of us on this island using non-returnable bottles and indestructible plastic containers, it’s not hard to imagine the mountains of rubbish we’ll have to deal with.’

The allergy symposium was organized by the Natasha Allergy Research Foundation, created by the parents of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died in July 2016 following an allergic reaction to a baguette containing sesame seeds.

Charles said at the event that he would like the Prince’s Foundation to develop a partnership with the allergy charity ‘because it aligns with so many things I’ve tried to do and the messages I want to make pass”. The charity described the offer of support as a “game changer” for those with allergies.

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