The Duke of Cambridge has told how he wants to follow in the Prince of Wales’s footsteps by sharing his passion for the natural world with his own children.
The duke made the comments in Country Life magazine, which his father Charles has guest-edited to mark his 70th birthday.
William paid tribute to Charles, saying: “His passion for the environment and the natural world is something I want to repeat in the way I raise George, Charlotte and Louis.”
He also revealed how the heir to the throne adores the red squirrels on the Balmoral estate so much he names them – and even lets the endangered animals into his home.
William said of his father: “He is completely infatuated by the red squirrels that live around the estate in Scotland – to the extent that he’s given them names and is allowing them into the house!”
Charles is patron of the Red Squirrel Survival Trust, which works to protect the threatened animals.
William told how Charles has “hundreds of bird tables” at his Gloucestershire home Highgrove and replenishes them by hand personally whenever he is there.
The duke said: “Some of my earliest memories are from Balmoral, where my father taught me about the natural world around us – from the burns to the trees to the hills.”
He added: “My father’s focus on the environment is something I’ve looked up to all my life.
“His unwavering commitment to rural issues and the countryside has been a big inspiration to me and something I am keen to emulate and teach my children about.”
William opened up about his own fondness for country life, saying: “There is nowhere I feel more relaxed, energised and at peace than the British countryside.
“I’m lucky to call Norfolk home and I love it there.”
The Cambridge family has a 10-bedroom mansion Anmer Hall on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, as well as their Kensington Palace home in London.
William added that he wanted to help close the urban-rural divide and follow Charles by becoming a champion for countryside communities.
In the special edition of Country Life, Charles referred to his “alarming” 70th birthday and joked he had “all the scars that go with” his milestone age.
The future king wrote a 1,960-word leader in which he warned that the countryside and its people cannot be taken for granted.
(It) is nevertheless associated with the alarming realisation that I have reached the biblical threshold of three score years and 10, with all the scars that go with it.The Prince of Wales
He thanked the publication for the chance to take charge of the magazine, but said it was associated with “the alarming realisation that I have reached the biblical threshold of three score years and 10, with all the scars that go with it.”
The prince expressed concern over the UK’s position as a food producer and suggested it should try to give itself the edge by becoming the world’s most environmentally-friendly one.
“As a relatively small island, I cannot see how our food production could ever compete within the world’s commodity markets,” he said.
“Perhaps, though, we could seek to establish the United Kingdom as the most environmentally-friendly food producer with a unique ‘brand image’, as an island offering the highest standards of quality and natural goodness?
“Whatever vision we have for the countryside, we need to think carefully about how to make it happen.”
He added that the countryside and its people were hugely resilient, but should not be taken for granted.
Charles, who has three grandchildren and another on the way, once again repeated his calls to protect the environment for the youngest generation.
“Perhaps the clearest way to understand how much is at stake, and what we might want to do as a result, is to try to think ahead to what our grandchildren will want and need,” he said.
The Duchess of Cornwall also wrote a piece for the magazine in which she heralded the work of the Medical Detection Dogs charity.
Camilla told of her adoration for her two rescue Jack Russells, Beth and Bluebell.
“They are family, friends and ever-faithful companions and, just like anyone else with a passion for dogs, I can’t imagine life without them,” she said.
“But, despite their multiple skills, even I would have to admit they’re no match for the incredible powers of medical detection dogs.”
The duchess recalled how the Queen, whom she described as “another great dog lover”, and others were “astounded” when shown the work of the medical detection dogs during a demonstration at the Royal Mews.
– The Prince of Wales’s 70th birthday edition of Country Life magazine is published on November 14. More details can be found at countrylife.co.uk