Tuesday 28 May 2013

Prince Charles: "Cheaper food earns companies bigger profits and is sucking real value out of the food production system"

"The success of a globalized system is being subsidized by many complex, long-term problems that contribute to a potentially toxic mix, making the food it produces not cheap at all.  In fact, it is very expensive."

Addressing the Langenburg Forum at Langenburg Castle in Württemberg, Southern Germany, The Prince of Wales launched a wide-ranging attack on current food production methods.  

In his speech at a conference on regional food security at the castle of his 2nd degree cousin Prince Philipp of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, Prince Charles called for the creation of a more local model of food production and distribution. He said the drive to make food cheaper for consumers and to earn companies bigger profits was sucking real value out of the food production system – value that was critical to its sustainability.

"The recent horsemeat scandals are surely just one example, revealing a disturbing situation where even the biggest retailers seem not to know where their supplies are coming from."
The Prince of Wales said:

Ladies and Gentlemen, I would just like to say how immensely grateful I am to Prince Philipp, Princess Xenia and to Joschka Fischer [former German foreign minister, Greens Party] for their herculean efforts in putting this Langenburg Forum together! I hate to say that it has been over fifty years since I was here last and almost fifty years since my parents visited this wonderful castle, back in 1965. It was two years after a devastating fire which had almost completely gutted the building. So it is a joy to see it so marvellously restored under my late cousin, Kraft’s, expert supervision.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
if I may say so, this is a very important conference. I am sure what you have heard so far about the problems we face and the obstacles to tackling them has given you a clear context in which to be able to consider what comes next this afternoon.

The aim here is to think through how we might create a much more local model of food production and distribution. But also, how that might fit with producing healthy food using far more sustainable methods and how we might do all of this without damaging business. Indeed, how this could improve business.

Prince Charles received a hearty welcome in Langenburg.

As you have heard, the urgency for this comes from the fact that there is not sufficient resilience in the system as it currently stands. It may appear that things are well. Big global corporations may appear to be prospering out of operating on a global monocultural scale but, as I hope you have seen, if you drill down into what is actually happening, things are not so healthy. Our present approach is rapidly mining resilience out of our food system and threatening to leave it ever more vulnerable to the various external shocks that are becoming more varied, extreme and frequent.

The drive to make food cheaper for consumers and to earn companies bigger profits is sucking real value out of the food production system - value that is critical to its sustainability. I am talking here about obvious things like the vitality of the soil and local eco-systems, the quality and availability of fresh water and so on, but also about less obvious things, like local employment and people’s health. It is, as I fear you know only too well, a complex business.

The aggressive search for cheaper food has been described as a “drive to the bottom”, which I am afraid is taking the farmers with it. They are being driven into the ground by the prices they are forced to expect for their produce and this has led to some very worrying short cuts. The recent horsemeat scandals are surely just one example, revealing a disturbing situation where even the biggest retailers seem not to know where their supplies are coming from. And it has also led to a very destructive effect on farming. We are losing farmers fast. Young people do not want to go into such an unrewarding profession. In the U.K., I have been warning of this for some time and recently set up apprenticeship schemes to try to alleviate the problem; but the fact remains that at the moment the average age of British farmers is fifty-eight, and rising.

We also have to consider the problems we expose ourselves to when we ship vast quantities of commodities half way round the world. These long distance supply chains are apt to snap when they are subjected to sudden shocks. Unexpected weather events, hikes in fuel prices, trade disputes and disease; all sorts of unpredictable events threaten to interrupt supplies. And such is the way we now arrange things that most of us, even if we do not realize it, have an umbilical dependency upon this globalized system which is surely a dangerously vulnerable position to be in.

And finally there are the social and economic problems that derive from this pressure to produce cheap food. It is heartening, I must say, to be in this part of Germany where there is the highest density of organic farms in Europe. I've just visited a marvellous example with Herr [Rudolf] Bühler but throughout the continent the way we produce most of our food seems dependent more on chemicals and industrial processing than it does on farmers - and, for that matter, on our ability to cook!

In the U.K., as elsewhere - but particularly I think in the U.S. - the consequences of this are ever more apparent in the deteriorating state of our public health. We all know that Type 2 Diabetes and other obesity-related conditions are rapidly on the increase. The public bill for dealing with these is already massive and I am told it could become completely unaffordable if we do not see a shift in emphasis. And, of course, it will be cities that carry the heaviest part of that burden. It is a peculiar trend…

"How is it, then, that systems of farming which do precisely the opposite - with increasingly dire and damaging effects on both the terrestrial and marine environments, not to mention long-term human health - are able to sell their products in mass markets at prices that in no way reflect the immense and damaging cost to the environment and human health?  A cost that then has to be paid for over and over again elsewhere - chiefly, in all probability, by our unfortunate children and grandchildren, whose welfare I happen to care about."
Am I alone, ladies and gentlemen, in wondering how it is that those who are farming according to organic, or agro-ecological principles - in other words, sustainably, for the long-term, by operating in a way that reduces pollution and contamination of the natural environment to a minimum and maximizes the health of soil, biodiverse ecosystems and humanity - are then penalized? They find that their produce is considered too expensive and too “niche market” to be available to everyone. How is it, then, that systems of farming which do precisely the opposite - with increasingly dire and damaging effects on both the terrestrial and marine environments, not to mention long-term human health - are able to sell their products in mass markets at prices that in no way reflect the immense and damaging cost to the environment and human health? A cost that then has to be paid for over and over again elsewhere - chiefly, in all probability, by our unfortunate children and grandchildren, whose welfare I happen to care about. Surely this is a truly perverse situation which, you would have thought, could be turned on its head to make genuinely sustainably-produced food accessible to everyone, and the polluter to pay the real costs for the side effects of industrialized food? It is to be wondered at how this state of affairs persists - and yet to suggest standing it on its head and transforming the situation is to invite the predictable chorus of vitriolic accusations that you are anti-science, anti-progress, out of touch with commercial pressures and not living in the “real world.”

So, as I hope you can see, the success of a globalized system is being subsidized by many complex, long-term problems that contribute to a potentially toxic mix, making the food it produces not cheap at all. In fact, it is very expensive. The only reason it appears cheap in the shops is because the costs either fall somewhere else, or they are being stored up for the future when, as I have said, they will be met by our children and grandchildren. You only have to look at what is happening to the Baltic Sea to see the sort of legacy I am talking about. And as I heard from many people in Sweden last year, a delicate ecosystem is being suffocated by what is called “eutrophication” - an entirely Man-made problem, caused by excessive amounts of nutrients leeching into the water from farming and other industrial processes. The price of apparently cheap food is costing nothing less than the Earth!

This is why we have to recalibrate and re-gear the system. Food needs to be produced in a more sustainable and eco-friendly manner and how it is then processed and distributed needs to happen at a much more appropriate level. In short, our food systems need to have better networks which are less globally dependent and more locally inter-connected. Moving in that direction could solve lots of problems. Many of the arguments about “feeding the world” conveniently ignore the fact that in both the developed and developing worlds 40% of all food produced is then wasted. It is either thrown away or it ends up rotting through lack of storage or well-managed local distribution.

There are plenty of very sophisticated means of enabling city regions to become the engines of significant change. I have seen many inspiring examples here in Germany which, if I may say so, is leading the debate on many of these issues. As you will discover in the next session, there are also some very interesting new ways of thinking and operating - seeds of change that could put resilience back into the system. They could also bring farming back from the brink of a worrying collapse and offer the retail sector a profitable future.

Some of these approaches follow the idea that came from Toronto and Copenhagen - of prioritizing procurement in the immediate hinterland of a town or city. This is already delivering benefits for farmers, consumers and for public organizations such as hospitals and schools. And in that vein, I understand this meeting today might lead to the consideration of a regional food initiative, here in Baden-Württemburg, that would, if I may say so, be wonderful as these sorts of examples are invaluable. They demonstrate that stakeholders are not powerless; they do have the ability to support more resilient and integrated food systems if they are prepared to act with a common purpose.

Prince Charles in Langenburg accompanied by his cousin Prince Philipp of Hohenlohe-Langenburg (l.) and Princess Saskia of Hohenlohe-Langenburg (r.). Please note that the bakery is still called "Hof Conditorei", by appointment to the princely court [of Langenburg].
One of the presentations in a moment explores how we might capitalize on the sort of information technology that underpins social media websites these days. From what I understand and I am certainly not an expert, there is every chance this technology could transform the way food networks operate, so it would, perhaps, be wise to take such ideas seriously.

I realize only too clearlt that there is no one “magic bullet” solution to establishing a resilient and sustainable food system. Local food production is not the panacea. But we do need to redress the balance perhaps through carefully structured incentives and disincentives if we are to evolve food systems and food businesses so that people have what they most want, and Nature’s systems have what they most need to keep us all going, now and in the future.

In this regard we should perhaps pay particular attention to a recent agreement between the United Nations food and agriculture organisation and the international Slow Food movement. It is hugely encouraging, I think, and I would have thought also provides a most useful model to build on.

So Ladies and Gentleman I can only wish you well in your deliberations for the rest of the afternoon. Having joined you here today I will allow myself the hope that the ideas you are discussing at this forum will become the much needed practical behaviour of tomorrow.

Prince Charles' visit made front page headlines in Germany.

Tuesday 14 May 2013

Royal Over-seas League - Victorian Branch

The ROYAL OVER-SEAS LEAGUE VICTORIAN BRANCH (ROSL) is an organisation which - in its own words - "was set up to bring together like-minded people, to foster friendship and understanding between Commonwealth peoples of different cultures and nationalities and to work for the good of humanity at large. ROSL in Victoria boasts a wide cross-section of society and all ages."

The Royal Over-Seas League was founded in 1910 by Sir Evelyn Wrench to foster international friendship and understanding. ROSL operates under Royal Charter and ‘aims at promoting an enduring multi-racial fellowship pledged to the support of the Commonwealth and to the service of others and humanity at large’. It is required to encourage the arts, particularly among the young people of the Commonwealth.

ROSL seeks to fulfil its aims by:

•Supporting Commonwealth ideals

•Offering clubhouse hospitality to member

•Organising annual competitions for young artists and musicians

•Developing joint welfare projects for disadvantaged communities

•Providing a network of contact and representatives around the world.

ROSL has members throughout the world. There are branches or member groups in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Switzerland.

League events are neither formal nor obligatory, but rather of a social nature and focus on a broad range of interests. These include theatre parties, celebratory dinners, receptions and musical events organised throughout the year.


HM The Queen


HRH Princess Alexandra KG GCVO

Patron Australia

The Governor-General of Australia

Patron Victoria

The Governor

Chairman Australia & President Victoria

Jason Ronald OAM


Wednesday 5 June 2013


12 noon for 12.30pm

ESU House, 146 West Toorak Road, South Yarra

Sunday 9 June 2013

A Service will be held at 10.00am at St. George’s Anglican Church, 296 Glenferrie Road, Malvern

followed by morning tea with the congregation.

Guest Speaker to be announced

For event details please contact Miss Julie Sattler OAM, 1 / 50 Sutherland Road, Armadale 3143, Telephone: 9500 1947

Monday 13 May 2013

Serbia: Nearly 40 p.c. in favour of the Monarchy

According to an opinion poll done by Belgrade-based SAS Intelligence agency 39.7 percent of the Serbians believe that a renewal of a parliamentary monarchy would be a good idea. 32.2 percent of those who replied were strongly against the monarchy while 27.4 percent did not have an opinion on the issue.

Youth Radio Broadcasting B92 attended a press conference, where SAS Intelligence Executive Director Miljan Premović explained the poll which was carried out between 11th and 16th April: a total of 1,615 people in 16 Serbian towns, Kosovo excluded, had participated in it. He said that the poll had been carried out in all regions, in both urban and rural areas and that it covered both sexes and citizens of various aged and that it had a 95 percent trust interval “which makes it good enough for scientific publications”.

The main person who inspired us to conduct the poll was in fact world’s leading nation-branding expert Simon Anholt who believes that Serbia is one of the countries with the highest chance to renew the monarchy. Therefore we decided to give the public an insight into one of the social topics that have not been researched and show the mood regarding the renewal of monarchy. The question resembles a possible referendum question: Should Serbia be a parliamentary monarchy?”

The opinion poll was conducted before the repatriation of the remains of Queen Alexandra of Yugoslavia (* 25th March 1921 in Athens - + 30th January 1993 in East Sussex, U.K.). 

At the Tatoi Palace Royal Cemetery the Remains of HM Queen Alexandra were seen off by representatives of the Greek Orthodox Church His Eminence Metropolitan Athinogoras and Archimandrite Patrikio.

On 9th May the remains of  Queen Alexandra were disinterred at the Tatoi Palace Royal Cemetery in the presence of Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine, HRH Princess Irene of Greece, Mr. Vassilis Koutsavlis, President of Friends of Tatoi, together with Their Excellences Ambassador of Serbia Mr. Dragan Zupanjevac, Ambassadors of Montenegro Mr. Ivo Armenko, Hungary Mr. Jaime Barberis, Jordan Mr. Saker Malkawi, Switzerland Mr. Lorenzo Amberg and Mrs. Christiane Amberg, Ambassador Mr. Dionyssis Kodelas, Ambassador of Poland – Mr. Maciej Krych, Mr. Chronis and Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO Mrs. Marianna Vardinoyannis and other dignitaries.

A memorial service for HM Queen Alexandra was officiated by His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia at the Royal Chapel of St Andrew the First Called at the Royal Compound in Dedinje. In his address afterwards, the Patriarch has emphasized: “We are grateful to the Lord that time when they have been forbidden to come back to their country, and to have a final rest at the country that members of Karadjordjevic Royal Family lived for is finally over. The huge injustice has been rectified, praise the Lord!”

HRH Crown Prince Alexander gave a moving speech: ”Thank you all for gathering here today to pay respect to my mother, HM Queen Alexandra of Yugoslavia. I wish to express my special gratitude to His Holiness Patriarch Irinej for being here today and for all his prayers. My mother got married to my father King Peter II while he was in exile during World War II. She shared with him the tragedy of being torn away from his country and his people. Soon they will be together in their eternal place of rest in Oplenac, thus fulfilling my great-grandfather’s King Peter I legacy to have all the members of Karadjordjevic family buried there.

"We have brought the Queen to her country. Welcome home, mother! Eternal glory to her!

Queen Alexandra was the daughter of HM King Alexander of the Hellenes and HRH Princess Aspasia of Greece and Denmark (née Aspasia Manos). Queen Alexandra was educated at Westfield, the junior school of Heathfield, then she went to Heathfield. Following schooling in England Queen Alexandra went to Mademoiselle Ozanne in Paris. The Queen was previously buried at Tatoi Palace Royal Cemetery near Athens.

HM King Peter II, HM Queen Alexandra and HM Queen Mother Maria will remain at The Royal Chapel of St. Andrew the First Called until the State Funeral on 26th May in the Church of St. George Royal Mausoleum in Oplenac.

Sunday 12 May 2013

Sour times for Australian republicans

Funny, how history repeats itself. Already the old Greek fable-ist and story teller Aesop (c. 620–564 BC), had the fox declare, that the grapes he could not reach were sour (The Fox and the Grapes). Today's fox is called Malcolm Turnbull and he proclaimed last Friday, the voting with a paper ballot would not help to achieve his aim to establish a republican regime in Australia. Therefore Turnbull advocated an "online plebiscite" on the abolition the monarchy as a precursor to a new republic referendum, saying web-based polls have become more reliable than the traditional paper ballot.

How desperate must republicans be, if they do not trust in ballot papers anymore and put their hope in easy to manipulate online voting systems?

Turnbull was speaking at a fundraising banquet in Sydney, on which Murdoch media (The Australian and MX) widely reported. They can rely on Rupert Murdoch’s propaganda machine. MX wrote: “Current [ARM] chairman Gallop said it was again time to discuss cutting ties with the monarchy after the topic ‘went off the boil’ ...”. Did you notice the subtle irony “it was time again”? How many revivals will the Australian republicans celebrate? Why not accept that the people of  Australia have selected our Monarchy and help make it work for the benefit of the Australian people and the democratic institutions?

“Gallop said ARM had spent the past year rethinking how the subject should be re-introduced.” And the result of a one year thinking is the grandiose proclamation “web-based polls have become more reliable than the traditional paper ballot”. Do they really believe this could bring a republican system to Australia?

The grapes will remain sour for Australian republicans.

Prince Charles in Melbourne: In November 2012 a huge crowd welcomed Australia's future King - more than would ever turn out to see Malcolm Turnbull.