Britain’s Prince Charles’ appeal to citizens to join a movement – similar to the ‘Land Army’ of World War II – and descend on farmlands up and down the nation to help harvest produce during the pandemic has prompted resentment.
Clarence House in London, Charles’ official residence, tweeted out a ‘Pick for Britain’ campaign video fronted by the Prince of Wales on Tuesday. The royal called on Britons to make “a vital contribution to the national effort” by taking on the arduous work this summer to avoid the scenario of crops rotting in fields and going to waste.
“If we are to harvest British fruit and vegetables this year, we need an army of people to help.”
— Clarence House (@ClarenceHouse) May 19, 2020
The UK’s agricultural industry is under immense strain due to the coronavirus outbreak preventing migrant workers, who make up a large proportion of the farming workforce, from carrying out the vital role.
In what was perhaps a veiled swipe at the work ethic of some Britons, the Prince said that what was needed most was “pickers who are stickers,” meaning workers who wouldn’t up and leave due to the tough manual labor involved. Charles asked people to summon up the war-time spirit in the UK’s hour of great need.
“This is why that great movement of the Second World War – the Land Army – is being rediscovered in the newly created ‘Pick for Britain’ campaign.”
The initiative has been widely panned by many on social media, apparently aggravated by a man of great privilege – who considers himself a farmer – but who wasn’t himself intimating that he would be joining his fellow Britons on farmlands to carry out the physically demanding work.
“You first then,”joked one commenter.
Another sarcastically suggested that the void left by the low-paid migrant worker shortage could be partly filled by Charles’ disgraced brother Prince Andrew, as “he has no other work these days.”
“This would carry more weight if Prince Charles was seen in a field actually working.”
Others angrily insisted that they would only consider joining the “movement” if the heir to the British throne gets his “pointless a**e out picking strawberries for eight hours a day.”
In April, the UK government conducted an emergency airlift of around 150 Romanian farm workers in a desperate attempt to keep crop harvesting ticking over.
Only time will tell if Prince Charles’ intervention will inspire the necessary numbers of British workers needed to keep the UK agricultural industry afloat this summer.