Man Who Has Never Had an Actual Job Encourages Laid-Off Workers to Pick Fruit

Some have criticized Prince Charles' suggestion that people out of work due to coronavirus sign up for underpaid physical labor.
May 20, 2020, 9:35pm
Prince Charles of Wales

The Prince of Wales is a 71-year-old man who has more first names (four) than he's had actual jobs (zero), but that hasn't stopped everyone's second least-favorite Royal from suggesting that recently unemployed Brits should be more-than-willing to earn a single-digit hourly wage while picking fruit for the next several months.

In a video posted to Twitter, a ruddy-cheeked Prince Charles stood on the impeccably manicured grounds of his 53,000 acre Scottish estate and, for 95 carefully enunciated seconds, explained that the country needs people who "are genuinely going to commit" to the exhausting work of harvesting fruits and vegetables for the remainder of the growing season.

"If we are to harvest British 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," he said. "It will be hard graft, but is hugely important if we are to avoid the growing crops going to waste […] I do not doubt that the work will be unglamorous and at times challenging, but it is of utmost importance and, at the height of this global pandemic, you will be making a vital contribution to the national effort."

Charles name dropped Pick for Britain, the government's newly launched campaign to find seasonal help for farms and farmers who desperately need it. According to The Guardian, 98 percent of the United Kingdom's fruit pickers came from countries elsewhere in Europe last year, with the majority of them arriving from Bulgaria and Romania. In late March, before the UK locked itself down, the Concordia charity had secured the services of more than 10,000 foreign workers, but only a handful of them were allowed to travel in time.

Due to a combination of coronavirus-related travel restrictions, a controversial immigration bill that targets so-called "unskilled" workers, and good old fashioned xenophobia, there are anywhere between 70,000 and 90,000 seasonal positions that still need to be filled—and fast. On Tuesday, Environment Secretary George Eustice introduced the shiny new Pick for Britain website for job-seekers who are ready to be up to their elbows in broad beans.

"We believe those who are furloughed may be getting to the point that they want to lend a hand and play their part," he said. “They may be wanting to get out and they may be wanting to supplement their income. If they do feel that way, I would urge them to use that website and look at the opportunities that are there." (And then Symbolism put one in the back of the net, because the site promptly crashed.)

Pick For Britain emphasizes that the available jobs "can be hard work," and it recommends that all applicants should have a good level of physical fitness before getting started. "You will be part of a supportive team, often working outside in the fresh air and you are bound to make new friends," it optimistically continues. (It also adds that workers will "always be paid the national minimum/living wage for the average of the hours that you work," so perhaps you and your new friends can make homes for yourselves underneath some of the empty strawberry boxes scattered around the farm.)

On Twitter, a significant number of responses to Prince Charles' message, and to the follow-up post from Clarence House describing him as "a farmer himself," were some variation on "You first, mate." Others pointed out how ridiculous it looks for a man whose challenging job responsibilities include selecting the Royal Harpist to encourage people to sign up for underpaid physical labor.

According to the most recent annual report from the Duchy of Cornwall, which funds the "personal and professional expenditure" of Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, he received £21.6 million (US $26.4 million) last year. So yeah, let's hear that part about 'hard-graft' again.