Hi there, I know that everyone has their own opinion on the monarchy. But, with the coronation coming up this weekend I just wanted to share some surprising personal connections I have to the new King. As a small business owner in northeast Scotland, you might be wondering what I could possibly have in common with King Charles, but trust me, we actually share more similarities than you might think and it's not just that we both have residences here in Aberdeenshire. Keep reading to find out more.
Number 1 - Our appreciation for wool.
The Campaign for Wool, launched in January 2010, it's a multi-industry initiative led by its Patron, the former Prince of Wales. His Majesty serves as the global Patron of the campaign, actively promoting the message that wool is a valuable natural, renewable, and biodegradable resource, offering various technical and ecological benefits. By choosing wool, we can help safeguard the planet for future generations.
As you know, I am a huge wool enthusiast and I exclusively use 100% Lambswool that is spun by a UK-based spinner with over 200 years of experience. By doing so, I am proud to be supporting the heritage and manufacturing industry in the UK.
Number 2 – Johnstons of Elgin Cashmere Mill
In December 2020, King Charles collaborated with Mother of Pearl and Johnstons of Elgin to launch a limited-edition luxury wool scarf. The scarf was designed to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his Campaign for Wool, and King Charles was reportedly very involved in its design.
From 2006 to 2013, I worked as a woven accessory designer at Johnstons of Elgin. Although I left before King Charles's collaboration, I share his appreciation for the Mill and its products. Johnstons has been weaving for 225 years and is one of Scotland’s few remaining vertical mills. This means that they dye, spin, weave, and finish everything on site. I gained a lot of knowledge about the various types of wool available and their diverse applications here. This understanding helped me appreciate why products made from wool are of exceptional quality.
Image 1 - King Charles III viewing the Campaign for wool anniversary scarf at Johnstons of Elgin.
Image 2 - Actor Kevin McKidd and I, in 2008, in front of the Johnstons mill when he came to view the Scottish Highlands & Islands Film Commission tartan that I designed. He is the patron of this organisation.
Number 3 - The first in our families to earn a degree
Did you know that Prince Charles was the first British royal heir to get a university degree? He earned his bachelor's degree from Cambridge back in 1971.
Just like him, my twin sister and I were the first to go to university in our family. We both gained Honours Degrees in 2003 from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Dundee, mine being in Constructed Textiles, specialising in Knitted Textiles. It was an exciting achievement!
Number 4 – Our love of the environment
When King Charles III gave his first speech about the environment on February 19th, 1970, he was only 21 years old. In his speech, he highlighted the dangers of plastic waste, chemicals being dumped into rivers and seas, and air pollution from industry, vehicles, and planes. Although his views were considered eccentric at the time, they have now become mainstream.
Personally, I am also conscious of the environment both in my personal life and business. For instance, I only use plastic-free packaging to send out my products and try to make use of every scrap of waste wool I generate by creating craft kits or other small items. In his own words, "It's time to turn off the plastic tap" and I couldn’t agree more. It does make me wonder what King Charles would make of all the single-use plastic decorations I’ve seen in the supermarkets to mark the coronation, safe to say I won’t be buying any.
Number 5: Our passion for craftsmanship.
Dumfries House was purchased in 2007 by a consortium led by HRH The Prince of Wales and has since become an important part of The Prince's Foundation. The Prince's Foundation Building Craft Programme offers courses in traditional skills like blacksmithing, stonemasonry, and wood carving. King Charles values these traditional crafts and works to preserve them. As a maker, I share this sentiment, even though my machines are relatively modern, manufactured in the 70s or 80s. However, there are fewer and fewer people who use these machines and appreciate the process. I enjoy watching other craft processes and find them fascinating. It's great to see people striving to keep these skills alive.
So there you have it, Five common interests that King Charles and I share. Although some of them may seem a bit tenuous, I hope you enjoyed reading about them and finding out a bit more about me.
To end on a fun note, in 1997, Prince Charles visited Fraserburgh Harbour, my home town and interacted with the locals. At the age of 16, I was unaware and probably uninterested in his presence. Little did I know that I would now be looking at my commonalities with the new King.