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Golden Duck Short-list: 1. Charles, Prince of Wales

Prince Charles is nominated for using his position to consistently promote pseudo-science.

 

He founded and was closely involved in the Princes Foundation for Integrated Health, which closed in 2010. For 19 years it misinformed the public about alternative therapies such as homeopathy and Reiki[1]. The College of Medicine, founded in October 2010[2], appears to be a phoenix organisation, albeit with no public link between it and the Prince.

 

Prince Charles has no particular expertise in this area but despite this he has lobbied the MHRA with a series of letters and meetings to grant registration for Traditional Herbal Medicine[3] and has personally lobbied the then Health Secretary, Andy Burnham[4].

 

He is not only a supporter of alternative therapies, but sells them as well. His Duchy Originals Detox Tincture (now withdrawn) was an evidence free detoxification aid with no obvious benefit to the consumer[5], with Edzard Ernst describing the tincture as being based on “outright quackery”[6]. He has also publicly supported the alternative “Gerson Therapy[7]” for cancer, which involves coffee enemas, vitamin injections and drinking litres of fruit juice[8].

 

In his memoirs, Peter Mandelson tells of how the Labour government was regularly lobbied by Charles. Mandelson thought his views on GM crops “unhelpful… irresponsible and anti-scientific”[9]. According to Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair believed he publicly interfered in areas of policy that stepped over constitutional boundaries[10]. His inherited position means he has the capacity to influence public health and undermine the role of evidence within government health policy. His inability to engage with criticism, combined with his desire to lobby for change through the powerful role of his office, make his views detrimental to the future of UK health policy[11].