The Prince of Wales has urged communities not to lose the “dwindling” skills that shaped the built environment, and prevent specialist trades from disappearing “at an alarming rate”.
As he reflects on his 70th birthday in November, Charles also said he was “deeply concerned” that young people were growing up without a basic understanding of how the world works and our relationship with food.
The next in line to the throne said his decision to consolidate four of his charities into one – The Prince’s Foundation – would help garner the talents of people across the country.
In an editorial published in the Mail on Sunday, he said: “My hope is that by creating a place where we can teach building, design, textile and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills alongside food and farming education programmes, we can begin not only to create the vocational capacity to protect, regenerate and re-use our historic heritage, but also to create our future heritage, and to inspire a new generation to adopt healthier and more sustainable ways of living in their communities.
“This is the sort of practical action to which I attach the greatest importance as, I suspect, do countless other parents and grandparents.
“I have long believed in a genuinely integrated approach to the way we deal with the challenges of the world around us. I believe that everyone deserves a chance to succeed and that the best can be achieved through giving people the skills, knowledge and, above all, the self-confidence to do so.”
The new charity will have its headquarters in Dumfries House in East Ayrshire.
Lamenting the loss of certain skills, the prince wrote: “If we had to start again tomorrow, it is far from certain whether we would have the knowledge or experience to recreate them.
“Stonemasons, carpenters and other artisanal craftsmen and women who specialise in a whole range of unique heritage crafts, have been disappearing at an alarming rate.
“Their skill seems too often swept aside in a race for cheaper, faster building techniques that often produce homogenised, mono-cultural buildings that are not in harmony with the natural environment in which they appear and offer little consideration for the people who live in them.”
Prince Charles said that he believes new construction “should respect the timeless principles of proportion, scale and local identity and be sympathetic to their surrounding environment, whatever that may be”.
And he said people’s knowledge of food and what makes a healthy diet had “in some cases, disappeared altogether”.
He said: “It concerns me deeply that there are now groups of children who, for example, could not tell you which animal produces the milk you might have for breakfast.
“This lack of knowledge of food and farming can only signal bad news for future generations who are already besieged by processed food filled with sugar and preservatives of every kind.”