Princess Michael of Kent, one of Britain’s aristocrats whose family home is in Austria, believes that animals do not have rights because they can’t vote, they don’t have bank accounts and you only have rights if you pay taxes. You have to earn rights and animals don’t earn rights and therefore they do not have rights.
The Princess has a habit of putting her foot in her mouth and disengaging her brain because she is plainly incorrect on so many levels. Firstly, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 grants animals rights in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Numerous examples of animal welfare legislation across the globe in effect grants rights to animals in very many ways and to different extents.
The Princess said:
“I’m a great animal lover and I’m involved in a lot of conservation, but animals don’t have rights. They don’t have bank accounts. They don’t vote. We have obligation [sic]. We have obligation [sic] to animals but to say they have rights? They don’t have rights. You only have rights if you pay your taxes. You earn your rights.”
The comment quite naturally drew a sharp response from animal rights people and indeed anybody who is concerned about animal welfare. Elisa Allen, the associate director of PETA said:
“Peta urges Princess Michael to study the subject, rather than making an off-the-cuff statement that reflects ignorance of the issue of what fundamental rights animals have, which do not include the right to drive a car or build up an overdraft.”
She makes the point that in Britain women were denied the right to own property and gain custody of their children or even to vote not so long ago. Even today in certain parts of the world humans of certain ethnic groups are denied basic rights. It isn’t about owning bank accounts and paying taxes it’s about an attempt at creating a civilised world. And in attempting to create a civilised world it is absolutely natural to grant rights to animals who share the world with us.
Princess Michael likes her fur coats of which she has 14. She dislikes squirrels and foxes. She says that you can’t keep warm in Austria unless you were a fur coat in the winter. I don’t think she’s a true conservationist. I also don’t think that she truly loves animals as she claims. It is sad to say but she is essentially a rather ignorant aristocrat of which there are probably quite a few.
At one time, her dislike of squirrels tempted her into putting shards of glass inside her Christmas wreath because squirrels were making a meal of it. The intention was to hurt squirrels. The RSPCA criticised her for this suggestion. No one who is truly concerned about animals would seek to harm any animal and neither would they wear fur coats.