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Duke of Edinburgh Calls Wind Farms Useless

Some would say that “useless” is not a word that should be lightly employed by the nonagenarian consort of a constitutional queen; the Duke of Edinburgh does not have a role in British government and his lifelong task, which he has not always accomplished to perfection, is to repeat the performance of the House of Lords during the Napoleonic Wars when, as the Gilbert and Sullivan song from Iolanthe has it, “the House of Lords throughout the war/did nothing in particular/ And did it very well.”

Nevertheless, perhaps peeved by his son’s struggle to carve out a public role for himself as the Green Prince, the Duke of Edinburgh summoned up the spirit of Don Quixote to let fly at the windmills that, in his view are polluting the British countryside to no good purpose.  They will never work he said, and “are a disgrace.”  They are inefficient and cannot work without huge subsidies, and because they do not supply constant energy, traditional power plants must continue to be built to back them up.

As the Daily Telegraph notes in its story, the Duke’s frank dismissal of wind farms as absolutely useless subsidy hogs can easily be construed as an attack on government policy.  As the Telegraph points out, it is the current policy of the duke’s wife’s government to throw up as many windfarms as possible.

Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary, last month called opponents of the plans “curmudgeons and fault-finders” and described turbines as “elegant” and “beautiful”.

Under the British system, the Queen never intervenes in political discussions, impartially reading the program of whichever party has a majority in Parliament as the “Queen’s Speech” and never offering public criticism of a government’s policies.  (She is free to speak her mind with the prime minister and it is believed that the current queen makes full use of this right.)  Since Prince Philip’s outburst came in a private conversation with the head of a subsidy-supported wind farm company rather than as a public declaration, the British Constitution does not need to be awakened from its slumber.

His son the Prince of Wales has been more active; Prince Charles is known to write to cabinet ministers to share his thoughts on public questions and as heir to the throne and beneficiary of a set of interests and properties known as the Duchy of Cornwall he also has the right to speak up about legislation that affects the Duchy’s interests.  While Charles is a well known advocate of shaggy organic ideas (and quack homeopathic medicines), he too draws the line at windmills.  Neither Charles nor Philip will allow them to be build on land they control — much perhaps as Senator Kennedy fought to keep them away from the family compound.

In any case, windmills are the subjects of growing criticism in the UK.  Some don’t like the way the 410 foot towers disrupt the views; some don’t like the way they get noisy when the wind blows hard — many turbines in Britain must now be turned off for noise reasons just when the wind is blowing hard enough to make lots of electricity.

But the real problems seem to be economic: the Telegraph claims that windmills benefit from about $750 million in subsidies every year — and that two thirds of that money goes to non-British companies.  One of Prince Philip’s lifelong habits — and it has frequently gotten him into hot water — is to say out loud what many others are thinking.

With Britain slashing spending in a desperate effort to avoid the economic troubles now besetting the eurozone, the Duke of Edinburgh may once again have committed the most unpardonable of social blunders: speaking the unwelcome truth.

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  • Kenny

    Even the Dutch, too, are coming to realize that wind mills are an expensive joke.

    Seems evceryone is getting the message but [the President of the United States].

  • D. Noriega

    That’s why we LOVE him! Reading the new biography on Philip now, and he is so interesting.

  • dearieme

    Prince P’s role is to enunciate otherwise unsayable truths: these are known technically as “gaffes”.

  • The lone functioning brain cell in the entire Royal Family, speaks….
    We should listen.

  • joe

    Prince Phillip in Scotland: “How do you keep the locals off the sauce”? He should have had a baby with Dennis Thatcher.

  • thibaud

    From Philip’s Greatest Hits – hits on aboriginals, asians and sundry other savages over the years:

    1. China State Visit, 1986

    If you stay here much longer, you’ll all be slitty-eyed.

    2. To a blind women with a guide

    “Do you know they have eating dogs for the anorexic now?”

    3. To an Aborigine in Australia

    “Do you still throw spears at each other?”

    4. To his wife, the Queen, after her coronation

    “Where did you get the hat?”

    5. When asked if he would like to visit the Soviet Union

    “The bastards murdered half my family”

    6. To a Briton in Budapest

    “You can’t have been here that long – you haven’t got a pot belly.”

    7. To a driving instructor in Scotland

    “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to get them through the test?”

    8. After the Dunblane shooting

    “If a cricketer, for instance, suddenly decided to go into a school and batter a lot of people to death with a cricket bat, which he could do very easily, I mean, are you going to ban cricket bats?”

    9. To a student who had been trekking in Papua New Guinea

    “You managed not to get eaten, then?”

    10. To Elton John after hearing Elton had sold his Gold Aston Martin

    “Oh, it’s you that owns that ghastly car – we often see it when driving to Windsor Castle.”

    11. On the London Traffic Debate

    “The problem with London is the tourists. They cause the congestion. If we could just stop tourism, we could stop the congestion.”

    12. To the President of Nigeria, dressed in traditional robes

    “You look like you’re ready for bed!”

    13. Unknown

    “If you see a man opening a car door for a woman, it means one of two things: it’s either a new woman or a new car!”

    14. On key problems facing Brazil

    “Brazilians live there”

    15. To the matron of a hospital in the Caribbean

    “You have mosquitos. I have the Press”

  • Kris

    “It is the current policy of the duke’s wife’s government to throw up as many windfarms as possible.”

    Le mot juste.

  • Corlyss

    I wonder if the Prince cleared his spade-calling with the feckless heir-apparent.

    Several years ago, Chris Horner gave a 20 min presentation on his book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming on C-SPAN. His wife apparently is Dutch or Dutch descent. He ridiculed windmills as an inefficient 300 yr old technology the Dutch readily abandoned when serious means of energy production came along. Their only value, in Holland, is picturesque.

  • Exurban
  • Peter Hunt

    Wind turbines can be criticized for disproportionate land use and visual impact, but I believe a more fundamental weakness may be the need for highly energy-inefficient gas-fired peaking power to be used to support the grid’s stability when the wind stops blowing. I would love to see an independent study into the full life-cycle GHG emissions of this supposedly “clean” technology

  • Kenny

    What’s this, the kiddies editing Mead’s web site object to the use of the president’s full name which includes “Hussein,” and this comes from Walter Russell Mead’s web site.

    Grow up.

  • Luke Lea

    At some point you (we) will have to stop beating a dead horse, except it ain’t quite dead yet.

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