Prince Charles has warned that the British countryside risks being ruined by monoculturalism.
If society continues to spurn village pubs and traditional crafts, it will end up ‘pulling threads’ from the ‘delicate tapestry’ of rural life, he said.
The heir to the throne today used a verbose speech to tourism bosses to drill home his views on the importance of harmony and eco-living – and the paralysing peril of monoculturalism.
He told a conference in Lode, near Cambridge, that visitors to the countryside should be asked to make a voluntary contribution to support its farmers and local businesses.
He also sang the praises of a hotel surcharge scheme in Rome to raise funds for the upkeep of its historic monuments, though he did not suggest introducing it in the UK.
And he revealed that he – and presumably Camilla – have ‘very happily fallen into the familiar pattern of returning year after year to stay in a particularly fine bed and breakfast in the Fells of Cumbria’.
Charles added: ‘All these things attract and maintain tourism in an age of otherwise stultifying monoculturalism – it is the things that make us so different that is so attractive to people. But without assistance we will lose a national asset of incalculable value and one that, once lost, can never be recreated.’
He claimed that farmers are the tourist industry’s ‘greatest ally’ because they preserve the landscape, which is a ‘living, breathing’ place.
He said: ‘The delicately woven tapestry that is our countryside is facing unprecedented challenges. Start pulling out the threads and the rest unravels very rapidly indeed.
‘No farmers, no beautiful landscapes with stone walls; no thriving rural communities, no villages with at their heart the famous British pub so rightly beloved by our tourists; no sustainable agriculture, no distinctive local foods – no unique local story to tell and to experience.
‘In other words, no cultural continuity to give life its meaning and people a sense of belonging.’
Tourism and heritage minister John Penrose urged Britons to take ‘staycations’ in the UK and claimed we are more likely than anyone else in Europe to underestimate the beauty on their doorstep.
He said: (People in) other countries go abroad less than we do. They take more holidays in their own countries than we do. We need to get out there and sell the heck out of (Britain).’
Charles, 62, has vaunted his eco values for decades. He has described himself as Defender of Nature and began his book Harmony, published last year, with the words: ‘This is a call to revolution.’
In a documentary on his views, the prince last year described himself as being born ‘for a purpose’.
Giving fascinating insight into his view of his inherited wealth and influence, he said: ‘I can only somehow imagine that I find myself being born into this position for a purpose.
‘I don’t want my grandchildren or yours to come along and say to me, “Why the hell didn’t you come and do something about this? You knew what the problem was”. That is what motivates me.
‘I wanted to express something in the outer world that I feel inside… We seem to have lost that understanding of the whole of nature and the universe as a living entity.’
• The Duke of Edinburgh has pulled out of a reception celebrating Commonwealth Day after coming down with a cold.
Philip was due to join the Queen at the central London headquarters of the Commonwealth Secretariat, which co-ordinates the work of the ‘family of nations’.
But a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said he had to withdraw due to a ‘cold’.
The Duke is rarely ill and like the Queen has missed very few engagements over the years because of ill health.
Earlier today he was well enough to attend the annual Observance of Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey.
It is thought Philip cancelled his appearance more as a precaution to help him get over the bug.
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