Would Charles rather go naked than quit hunting?
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2000:
LONDON––Prince Charles of Britain has reportedly contributed a recipe for artichoke mousse to a cookbook to be published by the Beaufort Hunt.
“The book, called In The Buff, will also contain pictures of hunt members in a state of undress,” said The Daily Telegraph.
The display of support for fox hunting was disclosed on April 8, one day after the death in Parliament of private member Ken Livingstone’s bill to ban fox hunting meant that yet another year will pass before Prime Minister Tony Blair moves––if he ever does––to fulfill a 1996 pledge to implement such a ban.
Blair has now allowed two private member’s bills to ban fox hunting to die, while his government has introduced none. Blair reiterated his anti-fox hunting pledge in July 1999, with public opinion polls running heavily in favor of a ban, but backed away, as he did in 1997, after the pro-hunting Countryside Alliance drew 16,000 people to a September rally, drew 19,000 to a follow-up rally in October, and drew 13,000 to yet another follow-up rally in November.
The September rally reportedly featured posters asserting, “Labour supports sodomy. Labour bans hunting. It’s a queer world,” depicting Blair as a man “who loves gays and buggers the countryside.”
Fox hunting supporter John Jackson of the Fabian Society took an opposite approach during a February 2000 government hearing, likening the right to hunt to the right to practice homosexuality.
A ban on fox hunting expected to be adopted by the Scottish Parliament was on March 21 also delayed for at least a year, when it was referred for public consultation.
The Lord Justice Schiemann of the British High Court showed firmer backbone on February 28, upholding the July 1998 cruelty convictions of terriermen Stuart Bandeira, of Middlesbrough, and Darren Brannigan, of Stockton-on-Tees, for sending a dog into a badger sett. The dog was badly hurt in a face-to-face fight with either a fox or a badger. Terriermen hunt on foot, rather than on horseback, but their practices closely resemble those of fox hunters, whom they often accompany.
Whether or not the Schiemann ruling has important precedental value will remain unclear until similar prosecutions are brought before lower courts.
The Countryside Animal Welfare Group, closely associated with the Countyside Alliance, is trying for at least the fourth year in a row to get enough fox hunters to join the Royal SPCA to effect a hostile takeover and reverse the longstanding RSPCA policy against hunting. In mid-April the RSPCA confirmed to Guardian correspondent David Hencke that it had suspended processing applications for membership, with about 300 pending, and was seeking a judicial ruling as to whether it could legally exclude applicants who oppose key policies.
Prince Charles, a lifelong hunter, aided Countryside Alliance fundraising in virtual secret, 1995-1999. Anthony Barrett and Mark Honigsbaum of the London Observer disclosed his behind-thescenes role in late September 1999, just before Charles introduced his son Prince William to fox hunting with the Beaufort Hunt. Amid a storm of public outrage, Charles then declined the presidency of the Peterborough Royal Foxhound Society, which he was expected to assume for 2000.
The biggest individual backer of the Countryside Alliance, Nicholas Rufford of the London Times revealed in October 1999, may be Hong Kong tycoon Larry Yung, whose holdings include a British racehorse stable. Yung has reportedly given the alliance more than $1 million.
“Hundreds of hunting enthusiasts in the U.S., Canada, Ireland, and South Africa” also support the Countryside Alliance, wrote Chris Hastings of the Daily Telegraph in December 1999, estimating their contributions at about $500,000.
After Yung, the biggest foreign contributors are believed to be members of the 177 U.S. and Canadian fox hunting clubs, up from 153 clubs since 1994, according to the Masters of Fox Hounds Association of America. The U.S. and Canadian clubs have an estimated 20,000 active riders. The Countryside Alliance and the British Field Sports Society, whose top executives led formation of the alliance, have each claimed to have about 87,000 “active members” and 300,000 “supporters.”