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   Aug 12

Prince Andrew risks the wrath of Prince Charles on homeopathy

Prince Charles, a supporter of homeopathy, may not be happy about Prince Andrew’s private meeting with Sir Mark Walport, an opponent of alternative medicine.

There are few, if any, causes closer to the heart of the Prince of Wales than homeopathy, and, while this has brought him little but opprobrium from the medical profession and certain politicians over the years, the heir to the throne has at least been able to count on members of his family for their tacit support.

This may, however, be about to change. I can disclose that the Duke of York, the prince’s younger brother, has, in what would appear to be a provocative move, held private talks at Buckingham Palace with Sir Mark Walport, the chief scientific adviser to the Government, and an implacable opponent of alternative medicine.

‘There has been a sense among some of the Royal family’s advisers that on an issue that’s quite as controversial as this one, it’s important to at least be seen to be listening to other points of view,’ a senior courtier tells me. ‘The Duke of York thinks of himself as an honest broker, as he is aware that there’s no chance of any accommodation ever being reached between his brother and Sir Mark. He heard Sir Mark out.’

A former director of the Wellcome Trust, Sir Mark has good reason to want to make friends and influence people at Buckingham Palace. Last month, I reported that Prince Charles had held a private meeting with Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, when the prince was said to have argued for continued NHS funding for alternative treatments. Hunt is rumoured to be ‘on the same wavelength’ as Prince Charles on the issue. Paul Flynn, a Labour MP, subsequently said that the prince was putting himself in ‘a very dangerous position’ by being seen to be ‘lobbying’ for ‘voodoo medicine.’

The £4 million that the health service spends each year on homeopathy grates with Sir Mark, who feels that the money would be better spent elsewhere. Speaking at Cambridge University’s Centre for Science and Policy conference in London earlier this year, Sir Mark said: ‘My view scientifically is absolutely clear: homoeopathy is nonsense, it is non’science. My advice to ministers is clear: that there is no science in homoeopathy. The most it can have is a placebo effect.’

Buckingham Palace never comments on what is discussed at the audiences that members of the Royal Family grant, but I am told that Prince Andrew and Sir Mark ‘got along very well’ and they ‘may well meet again.’

Doubtless Sir Mark is all too well aware that Sir John Beddington, his predecessor, took precisely the same line, and was ignored by ministers for five years.

Source: The Telegraph

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