Prince Charles has long been mocked and criticized as a ‘meddler’ owing to his interventions on behalf of alternative medicine.
However, in new remarks which seem deliberately designed to telegraph both his ongoing commitment to alternative medicine and using his position as the next king to promote it, Charles has declared that yoga could help ease the strain on Britain’s National Health service.
Charles made the comment in a written address to a conference held by the Yoga in Healthcare Alliance, (YIHA), which describes itself as “a social enterprise that is enabling the U.K. National Health Service to provide yoga to its patients … Our first job is to enable the NHS and yoga teachers to work together effectively.”
The NHS already ‘prescribes’ yoga for the treatment of back pain, the YIHA says.
According to the Telegraph, the Prince, endorsing their mission, wrote: “For thousands of years, millions of people have experienced yoga’s ability to improve their lives … The development of therapeutic, evidence-based yoga is, I believe, an excellent example of how yoga can contribute to health and healing.
“This not only benefits the individual, but also conserves precious and expensive health resources for others where and when they are most needed.”
While many (including, one assumes, his new daughter-in-law, Meghan Markle who is a keen practitioner of yoga and whose mother is a yoga teacher) will salute the prince’s intervention, it seems deliberately calculated to reignite the controversy over Charles’ habit of promoting alternative medicine.
Charles, who has said he talks to his trees, famously used his inaugural address as president of the British Medical Association (BMA) in 1982 to advocate a radical overhaul of the medical system in favor of alternative therapies leading to a three year enquiry into such therapies. The inquiry reached the view that they were “unscientific.”
By 2010, the BMA had hardened its position and said: “Homeopathy is witchcraft.”
As The Daily Beast reported in 2015, Charles was accused of abusing his power to silence one of Britain’s leading academic critics of alternative medicine. Professor Edzard Ernst of the University of Exeter said he was treated “like shit” by university officials after he rubbished a report into the efficacy of alternative medicine commissioned by Prince Charles. The report said complementary medicine was cost-effective and should be made available through the National Health Service.
Ernst took early retirement and his department was closed down in 2011.
Charles’ Duchy Originals company was forced to pull advertising for Duchy Herbals Echina-Relief Tincture and Duchy Herbals Hyperi-Lift Tincture in 2009 because there was no evidence that the remedies had any effect.
Charles is probably on safer ground endorsing yoga, as many studies have shown yoga (and of course, other forms of exercise) can help with arthritis and back pain, as well as reducing the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and depression.
Charles said yoga classes had “tremendous social benefits”, adding, “I will watch the development of therapeutic yoga in the U.K. with great interest and very much look forward to hearing about the outcomes from your conference," he wrote to delegates.
The Telegraph previously reported that the Prince of Wales’s charity funds yoga, meditation, and “breath-focused stretches” for young prisoners, in a bid to help restore “hope and positivity” behind bars.