Staff at a rescue centre for injured animals have hit out at a decision to hand the official opening duties to a royal with links to fox hunting.
The Duke of Kent will visit the Scottish SPCA’s Fishcross centre in Clackmannanshire in the coming weeks.
But insiders at the charity and animal rights campaigners are angered by the visit of the duke, a close confidante of his cousin the Queen, who affectionately calls him Eddie.
The 84-year-old is the only royal who is a member of pro-hunting group the Countryside Alliance.
The decorated former soldier is also a member of the Royal Caledonian Hunt, a Scottish club set up in 1777 to promote hunting and racing.
The Scottish SPCA has been a vocal opponent of fox hunting over the past two decades. Earlier this year, its boss Mike Flynn branded it “abhorrent”.
An insider said: “People aren’t happy. The duke is controversial with his links to fox hunting, especially since we nurse foxes back to good health.
“The society’s income from public donations has been down since bad publicity over the massive salary paid to a former chief executive and they seem to think good PR is the way forward.
“But this guy stands for many things that animal lovers reject. They shouldn’t invite him along.”
John Robins of Animal Concern said: “This is a throwback to the 80s and 90s when the Scottish SPCA was full of fox hunters and campaigners had to take dead foxes to their AGM to embarrass them into opposing fox hunting.
“It must be asked if the Duke of Kent is an appropriate person to invite to a centre which treats injured foxes. This visit sends out all the wrong messages.”
The Scottish SPCA opened its £3.5million centre at Fishcross, near Alloa, in 2012.
Insiders say royal protection officers have been visiting Fishcross ahead of the visit, which hasn’t been confirmed.
Fox hunting with dogs was banned in Scotland in 2002, with an exemption for using dogs to flush out foxes for pest control, protecting livestock or ground-nesting birds.
Flynn, the Scottish SPCA’s chief superintendent, said: “The Duke of Kent will be visiting our National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Fishcross.
“He was invited to visit several charitable organisations in the area by the Lord Lieutenant of Clackmannanshire.
“We will be showing him our state of the art facilities and look forward to discussing the preservation and future of wildlife.”
Story from The Daily Record