On Saturday our new King will be crowned and a countryman will be confirmed as our monarch. Perhaps because his mother was so committed to the countryside and ruled for so long, we sometimes take the link between the new King and rural communities for granted. The King is not only a true countryman in the traditional sense, but has also been far ahead of his time in his concern about the environment and his commitment to sustainable farming. This link between the monarchy and the countryside is not, however, pre-ordained and we should celebrate the fact that it continues.
King Charles’ experience and interests span the entirety of rural activities. Obviously, he has had a long involvement in farming from Duchy land in Cornwall, to Highgrove, to Sandringham and many places in between, but he is also a sporting polymath. An accomplished fly fisherman, a keen shot and a passionate follower of hounds before the ban, whether with the Beaufort or the Blencathra. His equine exploits did not stop in the hunting field and Charles even rode under National Hunt rules as well as enjoying his well-known love of polo for many years. In a world in which many of us have become focussed on individual activities, King Charles reminds us of the many benefits of broad experience and the challenge of becoming a fully rounded countryman.
Likewise, the King’s passionate promotion of sustainable farming long before it became mainstream reminds us that challenging orthodoxy and promoting progressive solutions is a vital part of tackling the bio-diversity crisis and climate change. King Charles, then the Prince of Wales, turned to organic farming in the 1980s because he was particularly concerned about antibiotic use and the development of resistance in viruses. Even earlier than that he was voicing concerns about the impact of plastics on the environment and the inevitable consequences of unchecked consumption in a growing world population.
The King has taken on the huge burden of the monarchy as will be constitutionally confirmed on Saturday. His duty and his calling will always lay heavily on him and I am sure you will all join me in expressing our huge gratitude to him for taking on that burden. I am sure we all also hope that he will continue to find moments in his extraordinarily busy life to continue to enjoy the countryside which he so clearly loves.