Prince Charles still enjoys thrill of the chase while still legal despite mother’s advice
Sat 6 Nov 2004 00.46 GMT
Prince Charles, the country’s most eminent foxhunter, has no intention of stopping hunting until the practice is made illegal, Clarence House has said.
Such is the heir to the throne’s predilection for the chase, that it is well attested that he has defied his mother’s advice that he should scale back, or stop, his hunting activities because his support is verging dangerously close to the party political. His sons, princes William and Harry, have agreed to stop.
The Queen is understood to be concerned that more than 60% of the public are opposed to hunting and that allying too publicly with a raucous minority campaign could prove damaging.
Other members of the royal family who hunt include the Princess Royal and her children, Zara and Peter Phillips, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.
Of the four demonstrators who invaded the Commons chamber in September, two have played polo with the prince and a third, Luke Tomlinson, is a friend of William and Harry.
Camilla Parker Bowles, the prince’s partner, has also ostentatiously continued hunting and has made her views clear on matters such as the countryside demonstration in London two years ago.
She was only narrowly deterred from attending the march and defiantly sported a Countryside Alliance sticker in her car.
Clarence House made clear that Charles intends to continue hunting, though his spokesman would not divulge how often he hunts or when he would be doing so, for obvious security reasons but officially because his participation is a private not a public engagement.
The prince, Mrs Parker Bowles and William and Harry have usually ridden with the Beaufort hunt which meets in Gloucestershire, near his country home at Highgrove, but he also occasionally goes out with other hunts including the Meynell in Derbyshire, where he fractured his shoulder blade in a fall in January 2001.
He had previously also broken a rib in January 1998 while riding with the Wynnstay hunt at Malpas in the Welsh borders.
Despite the monarchy’s studied public political neutrality, surreptitious accounts of the prince’s private views on the matter have occasionally leaked out.
He is said to have expressed great sympathy for hunt supporters and was reported before the countryside march to have said: “If the Labour government ever gets round to banning foxhunting, I might as well leave this country and spend the rest of my life skiing.”
Donna Rosen, an American guest at a party attended by the prince for the British Museum last year, reported him as saying of hunting that “it hadn’t gone away yet and if it does, it would come back”.
Gloucestershire police were reported to be concerned that protecting the prince during hunts could cost them £50,000 a time, with no sign that Charles has offered to contribute to the cost from his private income.