What It’s Like to Meet Prince Charles

It started with a mysterious email from Eric Schlosser, who wrote the forward to my book Organic Manifesto. For security reasons, I couldn’t tell anyone anything until a few days beforehand. I just had to be in Georgetown, Washington, DC, on May 4th. I had to cancel a long-planned lunch with some romance writers—but if ever there was an excuse to cancel a lunch with romance writers, “I’m off to meet a Prince! A real Prince!” was a proper excuse.

The reason for his visit was to be the keynote speaker at a Washington Post conference on The Future of Food. Well, ya’ll know that’s right up my alley. A few days before, I got an official invitation to meet HRH in person before his speech. Of course I didn’t decline. About 20 people waited in a paneled historic room outside the Georgetown University President’s office. There I was with Wendell Berry, Wes Jackson, Marion Nestle, and a few other icons of the organic movement in America. It was a bit surreal.

The Prince’s Speech

The first sign that I knew I would like the Prince was that a burly Scottish-looking brute came into the room and opened all the windows (even though it was a bit chilly and rainy outside). “The Prince prefers fresh air,” he stated. While others in the room shuddered with the cold, I sighed with relief. I’m a lover of fresh air, too.

Suddenly, I turned and there he was, heading straight for me! Our eyes met…his were blue. All I could remember from the protocol was that I didn’t have to curtsy, but I was supposed to wait until he extended his hand first for a shake.  We shook hands. His shake was firm (hands of a gardener!). He seemed kind of tan, too. I don’t think it was fake.

Because I was the first one he shook hands with, and I could tell the whole room of folks standing behind me were waiting with bated breath, I didn’t launch into any long-winded conversation. He moved on to the others.  I was tempted to pull out my iPhone and take a picture, but that seemed bad form. So I chatted fondly with Don Graham, who is the CEO of the Washington Post, and father of one of my daughters’ best friends. Don was escorting the Prince around that day.

Toward the end of his visit, I got a chance to tell him that my middle daughter was named Eve, after the great Lady Eve Balfour, author of The Living Soil. He enjoyed that. We started talking about the Rodale Institute (of which he is quite aware, thanks to my brother Anthony). Then he told me a secret about Monsanto, which we both found appalling—but also seems inappropriate to share with all of you (except none of you would be surprised either).  And then, his security people made me leave the room because I was the last one there and he couldn’t leave until I had left.

I will write more later about his incredible speech (which I punctuated in the beginning with a coughing fit so bad I had to leave the room! Dagnubbit.) But what impressed me most was his genuine intelligence and curiosity. As I told Eve afterwards, “I met the Prince, and he was charming.” Prince Charming! And isn’t that the most important job of a real prince, after all?!

Fortunately for all of us, he has the courage to say what needs to be said to save humanity. If you want to watch his speech, which I recommend, you can find it here.

But as I said, I’ll write more about the whole conference in an upcoming post. In the meantime, I’m off to work!

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7 Responses to What It’s Like to Meet Prince Charles

  1. Gardener on Sherlock Street May 6, 2011 at 8:40 am #

    Looking forward to more about the conference. How exciting. I’ve see the news about his visit but my crazy schedule lately hasn’t given me time to really check into everything. Must start googling! Thank you.

  2. James Early May 6, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    You never cease to amaze me with all the fascinating things you do and people you meet. Thanks for sharing this experience with Prince Charles. He probably went home and told everyone that he met you and how wonderful you are.

  3. Sunny Honsickle May 6, 2011 at 11:01 am #

    I’m glad the prince got to meet you– to remind him what’s best about our country and how committed our leaders are to protecting our food and our future. I nominate Maria as America’s Organic Ambassador to the World. Jolly good!

  4. Sarah Stack May 6, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    It’s so fitting that you had the opportunity to meet and get to visit with Prince Charles! Shared visions are a beautiful happening! Your lifelong work (and your family’s legacy) are certainly deserving of royal praise. Thank you for all that you have done to awaken and inspire us! Soon, our company will have patents filed and I can fill you in on some very cool technology/tools coming that will aid us in testing our food to ensure its healthfulness, as well as other technologies to replace current toxic products. Mae Wan Ho, a tiny woman yielding a big sword against the evils of Monsanto (she’s also close to Prince Charles) will celebrate the day when these tools become part of consumers everyday practices. Enjoy your Mother’s Day, Maria!

  5. christine May 8, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    Maria: I thought of you immediately when I heard about HRH coming for this purpose…how amazing that you were there. Keep up the great work.

  6. Donna in Delaware May 10, 2011 at 4:39 am #

    Hi Maria,
    I am in Italy as I email. I’m happy that you got to meet someone who is a strong advocate of the enviroment, and food quality and safety. Too bad the Prince had problems a few years ago with some food products (meats I believe) that was supposed to be raised in Britain, but was actually a product, I believe of Poland. It was packaged in England and sold in his food store on his duchy in Cornwall. It was a deceptive practice, but I think he was made to clear up this problem because of a lot of problems he had with the food advocates in England.

    Hopefully he got it right this time. Looking forward to hearing more about the visit. I agree with SUNNY HONSICKLE as nominating you to be America’s Organic Ambassador to the World! We’ll be in good hands. (Just between us, I can’t look at the Prince with a straight face anymore because I always think of that “tape” of the phone call he made to Camilla,(Camillagate) during the ’90’s.

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