Prince Charles wants British people to sign up for working on farms this summer

Prince Charles at WaterAid Water and Climate Event

For the past few years, there’s been a strange conversation in America: the death of the “summer job.” Apparently, around 2016-2017, there was a weird trend of American teenagers no longer getting summer jobs, or there were fewer “summer jobs” on offer. I’m not talking about internships – I get the feeling that there’s probably a correlation between the rise of internships and the death of the summer job. As someone who had many summer jobs, I lament the end of part-time summer work for teens. So does Prince Charles! Charles is the face of a new campaign to encourage people – especially teens and people in their early 20s, I think – to work summer jobs in farming this year:

An “army” of workers is required to harvest Britain’s fruit and veg during the Covid-19 pandemic, Prince Charles has said, in a video promoting the “Pick for Britain” campaign. In a clip posted to the official Clarence House Twitter account, the heir to the throne said the job “will be hard graft” but “hugely important” if the nation’s crops are not to be wasted.

Due to travel restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic, the UK faces a shortage of fruit and pickers most of whom have historically come from the EU. Last month, career search engines such as Totaljobs reported record numbers of people researching farming jobs and it is thought many furloughed workers have been considering taking up jobs picking fruit to supplement their reduced wages.

However, the Prince of Wales says more workers are needed to ensure the UK’s food supply in the coming months as he urged people to “Pick for Britain”.

“At this time of great uncertainty, many of our normal routines and regular patterns of life are being challenged. The food and farming sector is no exception,” said Prince Charles. “If we are to harvest fruit and vegetables this year, we need an army of people to help. Food does not happen by magic; it all begins with our remarkable farmers and growers.”

[From The Independent]

Question: which affected the state of farming/pickers more, the pandemic or Brexit? It feels like Britain is short on farm laborers mostly because of Brexit, not because of the pandemic, although I’m sure it’s a combination of both. Britain is like America in that sense – here in America, our food supply is also dependent on day-laborers/immigrant labor. I doubt many American kids would want to “give up” their summer to work in farming though. Are British kids different?

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Photos courtesy of WENN, Backgrid, Avalon Red & Clarence House social media.

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41 Responses to “Prince Charles wants British people to sign up for working on farms this summer”

  1. Molly says:

    Will and Kate first. And real shifts for more than a few days, not a photo op.

    If Beatrice wants a carriage ride, she can also have a few turns.

    I think it would be amazing if they covered college tuition or something similar for a year in exchange for this. If you value the labor, then find the money.

  2. Lotus says:

    I doubt Brexit is a factor at all. Much like the US Britain can simply bring in migrant workers for a specific time period and then send them away.

    • anon says:

      Occasional human trafficking, eh? Bring them, use them then send them away. Rinse and repeat.

      • Courtney B says:

        They come on a special work visa, work the season, make a good bit of money compared to what they could make in their homes and return. Most don’t want to stay here. They like their homes and families. Not everyone who comes here actually wants to live here.and given the political climate I don’t blame them. And preCovid the administration, spearheaded by goosestepper Stephen Miller, was even cracking down on these visas. For all their talk about welcoming immigrants ‘who come the right way’ its just part of their continuing efforts to end as much legal immigration (especially from Mexico and South and Central America) as possible. Ironically it’s put them at odds with certain segments of the right, the business wing, who exploit immigrants and immigrant labor to keep worker wages down and weaken unions.

  3. LahdidahBaby says:

    Charles and Cammie should do it, too.

    • Yvette says:

      Haven’t there been stories in the British press for decades about ‘weird’ Charles who is always out among his crops, talking to vegetables to help them grow? I thought part of his Duchy’s success was due to his hands on approach and inovative farming technics.

      • Prayer Warrior says:

        Hi Yvette…it’s not weird to talk to living things…plants, even crops, are living. It is proven study after study that plants respond to music. They respond to the “vibe” around them. I’m a horticulturalist in the interior landscape industry, and took part in tests done in the ’70′s at the University of British Columbia and at Loyola (Concorde) in Montreal. So he was bold, brave and innovative in speaking in support of those tests. I’m 66 now and couldn’t work in the fields for more than 10 minutes before my body failed. I’m still working in the industry 3 days a week, but only for a maximum of 4 hours per day because…body failing. Doesn’t make me weird (I am however, not rich, in that I have no pension, so have to work if I want to eat and stay in my home), The research done was ground-breaking (ha!) and he was made such fun of what is now proven scientifically. I want to be clear he’s a puffer on so many fronts, but I feel obligated to defend when he’s made fun of for this particular aspect of his life’s work.

  4. ccsays says:

    Yeah, we’re about to lose a lot of so-called unskilled labour because of Brexit, care workers, fruit pickers, nurses…you know, the people that actually keep the country running. The US isn’t the only country with idiots shooting themselves in the foot for the sake of MUH FREEDOM.

  5. GR says:

    So is he planning on paying this “army” a living wage?

  6. KellyRyan says:

    My thoughts as well, how much are they being paid, and lead by example. Photo ops are meaningless without the work behind it.

    • Noodle says:

      Exactly. One of the reasons why America has to import their migrant farm workers is because the farmers don’t pay a living wage. They offset the pay with the cost of “room and board” for workers, where they aren’t making much money, but get to live on the farm as part of the deal. I don’t know any teen who would be willing to put up with the terrible conditions and back-breaking work of picking produce, for such meager wages. As much as the right decries “illegal immigration” in California, we NEED these folks to work on the Central California farms, which supply a lot of the produce for our nation’s markets.

      • Prayer Warrior says:

        What about using prison labour? They get to contribute for the greater good, and earn *some* (not a lot, but some money)..? I’m sure there are those that would say it’s a human rights issue, but in the end, they eat the food also, do they not? So they would be helping themselves, and helping the greater good. Is that not a win-win?

      • KellyRyan says:

        Full agreement Noodle. I live at the southern most end of Kern County. I love the fact we have a strong ag market, and these workers are not treated with compensation and respect they deserve. And no teen would volunteer to do this work. As to illegal immigration it’s minimal. When last I checked it was at 5%. My family had the same cry for freedom and a desire to work as our migrant farmers.

      • Noodle says:

        @kellyryan, I will pay more attention to the “They’re stealing our jobs” rhetoric when we have a stable supply of non-migrant workers. The reality is, most Americans don’t want those jobs. We NEED those migrant workers, and it’s a shame we don’t support and advocate for their human rights more often.

      • Courtney B says:

        Americans don’t want the jobs for the crap wages. Business has been exploiting immigrants (legal and not) for decades to keep paying low wages, no benefits and weaken unions (particularly in the food sector) in the service industry, construction, etc. No one expects these jobs to pay $100,00k a year but they should pay more than slave wages. And if you get injured on the job they can just say see you and not pay workers’ comp because no benefits.

  7. Lara says:

    Get Andrew to do it, I’m sure he’s not busy at the moment.

    • Mumbles says:

      Between molesting the fruit and creeping on the young female workers, that’s the last place he should be!

      But yeah, how about the Cambridges. They’re keen and focused.

      Funny enough I could see Charles doing it once and a while, with some weird hat and other get-up.

    • 809Matriarch says:

      And the heat shouldn’t be a problem. I hear he is not much of a sweater.

  8. emmy says:

    This pandemic is really pulling back the curtain on ALL the essential workers, not just in the health care field. I love it. Germany had the same problem but as far as I know, we’re letting workers from the neighboring countries in. They should’ve demanded more money. Food is incredibly cheap here and it doesn’t have to be. People just expect it now.

    The message is probably needed but the messenger … yikes. It’s like they WANT people to throw them out. They’re really begging for it.

    What exactly would a summer job be? It wasn’t a big thing when I was a teenager …. nearly 20 ago. Christ. There were part-time jobs but very very few available for kids during the summer.

    • Courtney B says:

      The YMCA day camps, Boy Scout camp and summer camps are usually good seasonal work but even they’re bringing in foreign students. Beach jobs and amusement park jobs seem to be mostly staffed by students and young people from Eastern Europe, at least in the Delaware/Maryland/New Jersey areas.

  9. OriginalLala says:

    Start by supporting small, local farms so they can pay living wages to their staff.

  10. Watson says:

    The optics of a millionaire royal asking people to pick fruit and veg is hilarious. You first, Charles! Would love to see you do your part to help the food chain!

    • Prayer Warrior says:

      I’m not wholly convinced Charles deserves total ridicule for this, I suspect he gets his hands dirty working (I’m sure he doesn’t shovel horse poop, of course) but I bet he’s happily planting, pruning and plotting for different crop rotations to preserve the soil nutrients. The Cambridges would go, take a picture and leave, so that would work to help #abolishthemonarchy meaning, I’m here for it!!

      • Shoshone says:

        I recently read an interview with a man who makes his living practicing the ancient art of hedgerow building and maintenance in England. He said that Charles is very interested in preserving the hedgerows and that several times over the years Charles has come to where he was working and joined in and worked along side him for 5-6 hours at a stretch. No press or audience involved. Just the two of them and, I suppose, the RP officers. Apparently, it is really hard physical labor. It doesn’t sound like Charles turns up his nose at hard work. Also, he has been a long time champion for agriculture in the U.K.

    • sarah says:

      That’s because you see him as just a celebrity millionaire. This is him acting as proxy head of state. This is a government campaign and a government policy which Charles is bringing attention to. Sometimes I feel like people forget that they are not celebrities. They fulfill a function, non-political, but certainly part of the structure of the UK government. They are often asked to bring attention to certain campaigns, or make visits to foreign countries at the request of the foreign office to further parts of British foreign policy. Within themselves the BRF have their own interests, but they are not autonomous.

  11. Becks1 says:

    the comments in response to this on twitter and IG were hilarious. Usually people are semi-deferential to Charles (not as much as to the queen or the cambridges, but more so than with the sussexes), even with the usual digs at Camilla – but ohhh people were ON FIRE yesterday with this. I don’t think it was the reaction Clarence House was going for, lol. And people were attacking the whole royal family – Charles, Andrew, Will and Kate.

  12. My3cents says:

    Countdown of us seeing a pic of katie Keen picking a token tomato in ?

    • Quincytoo says:

      Keeny Kate screeches for Sophie
      Sooophie. Get your lily white arse over here and hold the bucket whilst I toss the tomato in

  13. bluemoonhorse says:

    Army of people = migrant labor. Too bad for you Charles that your country (as well as my own) hates them. So I’m thinking that there is going to be a lot of food rotting in the field, just like it is here.

  14. Rianic says:

    We used to live in a farming community of the American South, and we’ve seen notices posted that they will need help because of the lack of migrant workers. COVID plus stricter rules about border crossing are keeping people from coming to help.

  15. June says:

    This is hugely to do with Brexit, and exacerbated by the pandemic. But whatever goes wrong will now be blamed on the pandemic by this government. Just as all the terrible things happening because of austerity was blamed on “not getting Brexit done” or something.
    I’m not patriotic in the least esp as an immigrant but it does hurt to see us become a laughing stock. I mean I’m generally happy to join in laughing at us because come on it’s well deserved but there are a lot of suffering people here, minorities of all kinds, good people. We’re not all those posh white Brits or whatever (I know this applies to Americans too, I know a lot of decent Americans from going to university there).
    Also I guess I don’t see a particular issue with Prince Charles doing this and don’t really see the point of exhorting the royals to go pick the fruits and veg lol. The whole royal family setup is hugely hypocritical so honestly whatever.

  16. Awkward symphony says:

    The tone deaf post after they made several palace staff redundant🤦‍♀️ chuck has a skin in the game & is basically worried about the duchy farms+helgrove gardens which need volunteers and low paid staff. These people are shameless and notice how he’s not being accused of being insensitive for asking people to work/help during a time of restrictions🙄

  17. Judith says:

    Charles leaves behind a solid and beautiful legacy in regards to sustainability. I’ve worked the fields before. Great memories!

  18. Alyse says:

    I think COVID will be used as an excuse for lots of Brexit’s side effects tbh.

    Loss of workforce? COVID (somehow) not Brexit… etc etc

  19. Ladiabla says:

    Yeah I don’t think PC should be getting any flack for this, he’s right about crops potentially going to waste. I agree that food is precious and should be valued and not taken for granted. PC’s interest in agriculture and the environment go back a long way too; he walks the walk. Hell, I’d go pick for Britain if it meant I could stay. I just want outta here now 😒

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