The reputation of the Prince of Wales took some years to recover from disclosures that he was in the habit of chatting to his pot plants, so admirers will be alarmed that the heir to the throne has taken to planting crops according to phases of the moon and zodiac charts.

After the teachings of Laurens van der Post, Charles now finds wisdom in the writings of Rudolf Steiner, an even less conventional guru. Steiner was the Austrian philosopher in the early 20th century who invented über-strict biodynamic farming -known only ha1f-jokingly by his followers, as the “fascist wing of the organic movement”.

Crops are ascribed elements so Highgrove beans, for instance, should be planted only when the moon is in Leo, a fire sign. To prepare an organic fertiliser, a cow horn is fi1led with manure. and buried to ferment for six months. It is then mixed with water and stirred clockwise and anti-clockwise for an hour before being spread on the soil.

It is-easy to scoff but it would not be wise. The a1l-party Commons public accounts committee declared last week that the Duchy of Cornwall has become a money-making conglomerate with wealth estimated at £505m. Biodynamic produce commands premium prices, so what might appear wacky one day could end up being another money-spinner for Duchy Originals -the purveyor of luxury nibbles (at regal prices) to Hyacinth Buckets and Japanese tourists.

For a middle-aged man with few visible signs of employment, the prince has grown fabulously rich, swishing around in yachts, sports cars and a wardrobe sufficiently extensive to accommodate Sir Elton John, Charles promises to be less a bicycling monarch than a jet-propelled-one - on biodegradable fuels, naturally. So as the Queen darns another sock while enjoying a repeat of Dad's Army and a Tupperware supper, she could be for-given for reflecting that compared with the grand old Prince of Wa1es, she is very much the poor relation, Who says alternative doesn't pay?

Redactioneel, Sunday Times, 31 juli 2005.