The heir to the throne, H.R.H Prince Charles, has given a candid look into his views on the countryside in a magazine he has edited.
The Duke of Rothesay has guest edited rural affairs publication Country Life to mark his 65th birthday.
In an editorial he said that the countryside was “the unacknowledged backbone of our national identity”.
His Highness is known for his concern on rural issues and his love of his Deeside home Birkhall, on the Balmoral estate.
He also took the opportunity to speak out on the plight of farmers: “It cannot be right that a typical hill farmer earns just £12,500, with some surviving on as little as £8,000 a year, whilst the big retailers and their shareholders do so much better out of the deal, having taken none of the risk,”
In the magazine the Heir nominated an eclectic group of champions of the countryside including workers at Balmoral.
Peter Fraser, formerly head stalker for the Farquharson family at Invercauld now a ghillie at Birkhall was one of those nominated.
He said: “I first met the Prince in the late Eighties, when he was invited to shoot grouse on Invercauld. Later, he employed me on the Glen Callater and Baddock beats after he took them over. He has great respect for those who work in the countryside, as well as Mother Nature. He hates to see vehicle tracks on the hill, for example. When he’s at Birkhall, it’s a working holiday for the Prince but if he gets an hour or two to himself in the evenings, he might go down to the river and have a cast.”
Another was Balmoral horse-logger Simon Lenihan, who said: “The Prince is a real champion of champions for horse-logging. He’s provided work on his estates and put on events in every corner of the country to revive the practice and keep it alive.”
Mark Hedges, the editor of Country Life, said, “The Prince has become the countryside’s strongest voice, his support for it is something that, as a nation, we should treasure. What the next king thinks matters.
But Hedges added there was some trouble in reading the Royal writing: “There was some struggle reading his handwriting... But he worked incredibly hard. Some of his emails were sent at two in the morning. He’s an incredibly good writer.”