Readings — From the August 2015 issue

Charles in Charge

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From letters written by Prince Charles to British officials between 2004 and 2009. The letters, known as the “black-spider memos” because of the prince’s handwriting, were released in May, after the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom overruled the government’s attempts to deny a request made by the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act in 2005.

Dear Prime Minister,

It was very good to see you again the other day and, as usual, I much enjoyed the opportunity to talk about a number of issues. You kindly suggested that it would be helpful if I put them in writing — despite the Freedom of Information Act!

We discussed at some length the agricultural situation. The most pressing and urgent problem is, without doubt, the rising numbers of TB cases in cattle. As you know, all the evidence is that TB is caused and spread by badgers. I urge you to look again at introducing a proper cull of badgers where it is necessary. I, for one, cannot understand how the “badger lobby” seem to mind not at all about the slaughter of thousands of expensive cattle, and yet object to a managed cull of an overpopulation of badgers — to me, this is intellectually dishonest.

We also briefly mentioned the European Union Directive on Herbal Medicines, which is having such a deleterious effect on the complementary-medicine sector in this country by effectively outlawing the use of certain herbal extracts. I think we both agreed this was using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

Dear Mr. Morley,

Thank you so much for your letter telling me about the High Seas Task Force. I must say that it is enormously encouraging to know of your efforts to bring to heel the recalcitrant countries who sanction pirate and illegal fishing, and I do wish you well in your endeavours. I particularly hope that the illegal fishing of the Patagonian toothfish will be high on your list of priorities, because until that trade is stopped, there is little hope for the poor old albatross, for which I shall continue to campaign. . . . Let us hope that between all of us who mind about sustainable fishing, we can make a difference before it is all too late. . . .

Yours ever,

Charles

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