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Monday, 12 June, 2000, 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK
A right royal row - Should the Royals have their say?

Famed for his controversial comments, the Duke of Edinburgh has opened fresh debate by appearing to play down fears about genetically modified foods.

He is quoted as saying that the introduction of the grey squirrel to Britain had done far more harm to the environment than would ever be caused by GM crops.

His reported comments are at odds with the views of the Prince of Wales, who has warned of the dangers of GM foods. But they echo those of his daughter, the Princess Royal, who earlier this month spoke out in their favour.

Do you think the Royal Family should just stay out of controversial issues, or do you find their opinions useful? Should individual Royals be allowed to get on their soapboxes, or should Buckingham Palace speak with one voice? Tell us what you think. HAVE YOUR SAY If the newspaper has a royal story, don't buy it. Stop absorbing trivia then we won't keep being offered it.
Mark, Bucks, UK



I'd rather hear the Royal Family's views on topical matters than be told which part of David Beckham's anatomy has just been tattooed

John S, UK
The most amazing thing is that these largely ignorant people get more coverage for their views than any scientist who has spent years studying the issues concerned and has the requisite paperwork to prove it.
Nicholas Garland, Germany (ex-pat)

I'd rather hear the Royal Family's views on topical matters than be told which part of David Beckham's anatomy has just been tattooed.
John S, UK

Of course, members of the Royal Family are entitled to their points of view. My problem is that none of them permit themselves to be challenged. Prince Charles, for example, gave his Reith Lecture and then retreated. Why? Are members of the Royal Family insufficiently articulate to defend their views?
Melissa, UK



I would not expect my cleaning lady or gardener to give me their opinions unasked. I therefore, do not expect to be bombarded with the Royals' opinions either

Sue, England
The Royal Family members who speak out on public issues perform a public service. They are independent, usually well informed and can test and gain an instant reaction from public opinion. That they do so in the face of a usually hostile media, adds to their worth in the eyes of the more moderate in the community. We are all free to disagree on occasion. It is sad to see the personal attacks on the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles but I doubt they lose much sleep on that count!
Tony Hemesley, UK

The "Royals" are servants of the country (i.e. taxpayers pay for their services as tourist entertainment). I would not expect my cleaning lady or gardener to give me their opinions unasked. I therefore, do not expect to be bombarded with the Royals' opinions either. They should know their place and keep their mouths shut.
Sue, England



They should be allowed their say since this is still supposedly a free country, or is it?

Lee Cross, England
Of course the Royal Family should give their opinions on issues like this. Their views are well balanced and stimulate discussion. As for their not being democratically elected and, therefore, ineligible to give opinions, I'm not aware of having voted for the myriad hacks who fill the daily papers with personal views.
Andrew Foster, England

To the best of my knowledge, quails eggs, partridge, smoked salmon, caviar and Dom Perignon champagne have all yet to be genetically modified. So, there is little if any chance at all of the Royal Family being affected in any way by the GM changes in food stuffs the rest of us have to live with.
Aidan, Brit in USA

I always enjoy the Duke's comments but I like his "gaffs" even better.
Patrick Masterson, UK

For what you pay them they must be authorities on something. Please don't shut them up and spoil our free show.
Ian Callow, California, USA

They should be allowed their say since this is still supposedly a free country, or is it?
Lee Cross, England

The Duke has been deeply involved in wildlife conservation, and been publicly concerned for the future of life on this planet for many decades. I believe that he has much more right to express an opinion than most of his critics, many of whom seem to have a nasty chip on their shoulder.
Graham Coy, Canada

We enjoy (or think we do) "Free Speech" in this country. Why should we apply it selectively? We all have a right to voice an opinion, just as we have a right to ignore other's opinions.
Andy P, UK



I feel grateful that I am not "privileged".

Roy Chapman, UK/Germany
When the BBC first of all questions who Charles should marry and then follows this question up with should they be allowed to voice their opinions - I feel grateful that I am not "privileged". The next time people think that they would swap their lives for the wealth and privilege of a Royal, think again.
Roy Chapman, UK/Germany

Obviously, like anybody else, they are as entitled to express their opinions. However since the monarchy has never been well known for its intellect. Why anybody takes his or her comments seriously is beyond me.
Nicholas Smith, Kuwait



It is obvious from Prince Phillip's quotes that he is ill-informed. Selective breeding and GM foods are not the same.

Paul Wheeler, England
It is obvious from Prince Phillip's quotes that he is ill-informed. Selective breeding and GM foods are not the same. With GM, foreign genes from completely different species are used. Selective breeding only uses techniques compatible with the existing natural order. Consequently, the Duke is advocating, unproven and untested science on the general public.
Paul Wheeler, England

Everyone's entitled to their opinion, even an unqualified one. I just have a quarrel with someone who uses his or her privileged position to foist it upon the rest of us!
Derek O'Brien, Northern Ireland

Being interested in what Phillip has to say about GM foods is like asking a Teletubby what he thinks of Einstein's theory of relativity!
Andrew McIntyre, UK



A not insignificant threat posed to the environment in the UK is Prince Philip and his shotgun

Rick, UK
Of course the Royal Family should voice their opinions. The choice is ours then whether we wish to listen or give credence to them.
Malcolm McCandless, Scotland

I think the Duke is being unfair to squirrels. The Windsors are a much clearer example of the disastrous consequences of genetic modification by selective breeding.
Jim McAteer, UK

A not insignificant threat posed to the environment in the UK is Prince Philip and his shotgun
Rick, UK



What is it about our Royal Family that makes them think that we take a blind bit of notice of what they say?

Alan Weeks, UK
What is it about our Royal Family that makes them think that we take a blind bit of notice of what they say? What have they succeeded in doing that makes us respect their opinions? After being fed a load of nonsense about the Queen having only just met and accepted Camilla Parker-Bowles I'm in no mood to listen to their utterings on GM crops.
Alan Weeks, UK

The Royal Family has every right to speak out about whatever they like. On this occasion, I hate to say it, but I fully agree with HRH the Duke of Edinburgh. The opinion of a Royal Family member is, in my experience, a lot better informed and less biased than a tabloid editor.
Laurence Davies, England



I don't understand how the media and the public can see the Duke of Edinburgh as a royal buffoon one minute, and a sound voice in the debate over GMOs the next

Monica Mahoney, Wales
I don't understand how the media and the public can see the Duke of Edinburgh as a royal buffoon one minute, and a sound voice in the debate over GMOs the next. HRH Prince Charles has been actively involved in organic farming and related issues for years and is suddenly dismissed as some kind of nut raving on the sidelines while his dad gets the government thumbs up. It's astonishing!
Monica Mahoney, Wales

Since none of them could be said to be expert in any field I should say they are best advised to follow the example of the Queen Mother - keep quiet, look Regal and allow comments to be made by official spokespersons.
John Brownlee, England

I suppose that given the years of selective breeding in royal circles, they are more entitled than anyone to comment on genetic modification.
Mark Taylor, UK



Merely being royal does not ensure slavish devotion and respect in this day and age

Dave Jones, UK
Following the many bigoted and racist comments from the Duke over the years, surely no one in their right mind will pay any attention to any of his comments, no matter how serious or important the issue is? Merely being royal does not ensure slavish devotion and respect in this day and age.
Dave Jones, UK

It could be argued that the Royal Family as a whole would benefit more than most, from the addition of a few "alien" genes. As for their opinions being taken seriously, I doubt that they ever can be when they are largely the rantings over-privileged individuals within an out of touch and outdated feudal hangover.
James, England

Since members of the Royal Family are not elected through a democratic process and can not be held politically responsible for what they do or say, they should be quiet and keep from saying anything that might be contrived as a political remark or action.
Jose, Netherlands



As major landowners it doesn't seem so unreasonable that they let us know what they are thinking and doing with the land that makes up our nation

John B, UK
I don't see why they shouldn't be allowed to air their views. As major landowners it doesn't seem so unreasonable that they let us know what they are thinking and doing with the land that makes up our nation. Personally I agree with Charles over the GM issue.
John B, UK

Well, they should be able to say whatever they think just as anybody else. However, this sort of after dinner family-debate is completely irrelevant.
Neither Charles or his dad are experts (by any means) on what they're talking.
F Conde, Mexican (in UK)

A united front is one thing, but some difference of opinion allows the people to see that there are things to debate, and that one person's view is not the last word on the matter.
Mike, England



It might be considerably better if they kept their private opinions on public issues private and stop muddying the waters

Patricia van der Veer, British in Canada
Prince Phillip has frequently made inappropriate and racially biased remarks. Fortunately both he and his offspring are not politicians and do not hold positions of "real" power. It might be considerably better if they kept their private opinions on public issues private and stop muddying the waters. Or perhaps the media should stop reporting their "pearls of wisdom?"
Patricia van der Veer, British in Canada



If the Royal Family are to evolve, and remain (perhaps even become) relevant, then they must be allowed to develop in the same way that European Royals have

Dave Hartley, Birmingham, UK
The only reason the Royal Family traditionally keeps out of controversial issues is to avoid embarrassing the politicians. GM is an important debate and everyone should have their say. Even though on this occasion I disagree with the Duke of Edinburgh, I think that his comments will help stimulate debate and help us establish the facts, something sadly lacking so far.
Paul R, UK

They are as entitled to express their opinions as anyone else on an issue such as this. It's not a political or constitutional matter. I would however say that yet again, Princess Anne shows a lot more common sense than her older brother.
Steve Foley, England

I don't mind their comments, as long as they have no say in policy. I think individual royals can say what they like and, for a change, the Duke of Edinburgh made a good comment about the squirrel issue.
Dan Peters, UK

I can't see the harm in the royals entering into "some" political and social discussion. If the Royal Family are to evolve, and remain (perhaps even become) relevant, then they must be allowed to develop in the same way that European Royals have.
Dave Hartley, Birmingham, UK

Yes, let them have their say. But why does everyone in the UK still hang on to their every word? It's not as if the monarchy really matters to anyone except themselves, is it? So why do the media pay so much attention to what the Duke, or Charlie, or Anne, says?
Pete Morgan-Lucas, Wiltshire, UK


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06 Jun 00 | UK
Duke joins GM debate
03 Jun 00 | UK
Princess defends GM foods
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