Published On: Thu, Feb 23rd, 2023

King Charles dislikes grey squirrels and wanted to make fabric from their fur

has been known to dislike grey squirrels, and reportedly wanted to use extreme methods to reduce their numbers in the past. This reportedly included using their fur to create a type of fabric.

The monarch’s sister, Princess Anne, visited New Zealand last week and visited the sustainable fashion brand Untouched World.

Fiona Bretherton, the Development Manager at Untouched World, spoke to about a trip King Charles took to the country back in 2012, and how he was inspired by his visit to “address the environmental challenge of grey squirrels”.

She said: “On a visit to New Zealand in 2012, King Charles became aware of the wild brushtail possum fibre industry that Untouched World had developed back in the mid-1990s as a sustainable solution for New Zealand’s biggest ecological threat.

“New Zealand had 70 million possums eating through 21,000 tonnes of native bush each night.

“They preferred native trees, which is what our native birds feed on, which had a major impact on our bird population. They also ate bird eggs including our endangered kiwi.

“The government was spending NZ$25-35million (roughly £12-18million a year) on eradication, mostly with poison bait aerial dropped, which also had an impact on other animals.

“Our goal was to support the New Zealand government, to humanely harvest the possums and use the fibre, if we could, for textiles, and over time an industry has built up around blending possum fibre with merino.”

According to the expert, His Majesty was inspired by this “sustainable solution”. Ms Bretherton continued: “King Charles asked if there was a similar way to address the environmental challenge of grey squirrels, and if we could investigate this to see if the grey squirrel could be used in the same way as the brushtail possum.


“It made sense to investigate whether our approach in New Zealand could present some part of the ecological solution in the UK, a possible way to save endangered native trees, birds and animals.”

Grey squirrels were reportedly introduced to the UK in Victorian times, and because of this, the native red squirrel population may become extinct in the future.

However, it turned out that the “sustainable solution” could not be applied to grey squirrels, due to their fur type.

Peri Drysdale, the founder of Untouched World, has said: “We researched and tested the material that he sent to us.

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“While our conclusion was that the hair was too short to work with, we were impressed by his interest and delighted to receive a personal letter from him acknowledging that work,” she told the New Zealand news website Stuff.

King Charles is not a proponent of grey squirrels, however, he absolutely loves red squirrels.

So much, so that he is even the patron of the Red Squirrel Survival Trust in the UK.

In 2014, he was reported as saying he wanted to “drive out” the grey breed by The Guardian.

This was when the King was said to have backed government plans to reduce the number of grey squirrels.

The motive behind this was reported to protect the UK’s native red squirrels, which are in danger of becoming extinct.

The King often speaks of his love for red squirrels, especially at Birkhall, his Scottish Estate, where they are large in number.

Grey squirrels are said to have been introduced to Britain by a Victorian banker in 1876, which spawned huge reproduction rates of the breed.

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