LONDON, United Kingdom – A British Princess has caused anger amongst liberal groups like PETA by claiming animals do not have rights because they do not pay taxes. Princess Michael of Kent is reported to have claimed “you only have rights if you pay your taxes, you earn your rights.”
The Princess is married to HM The Queen's cousin Prince Michael of Kent and is known for her forthright views on a variety of subjects. On this occasion she 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."
She continued: "We have obligation. We have obligation 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 Royal is no stranger to controversy and in 2004 angered a group of African American diners in New York by telling them to "go back to the colonies". She later claimed to have been misunderstood and the allegation of racism was a “knife through the heart”.
The Princess is not a native English speaker having been born in Germany, the daughter of Baron Günther Hubertus von Reibnitz, a cavalry officer. Her comments are often attributed to the German language being much more direct, in a way that can sound rude when translated into English.
Elisa Allen from the campaign group PETA told The Times Newspaper: "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 should also exercise caution in opining at all on such issues, because her daft assessment would mean that children and certain classes of human beings are also not entitled to rights."
The Princess had previously clashed with the animal liberation brigade because of her support for the wearing of fur. She is not considered a senior Royal, although does occupy a small apartment in Kensington Palace, the same building that was the home to Princess Diana after she divorced Prince Charles.
She is not the only member of the Royal Family who occasionally says the wrong thing in public. The Queen's husband Prince Phillip is famed for his unfortunate outbursts. In 1961 he told the Women's Institute that British women couldn't cook. In 2001 after hearing his neighbor Sir Elton John was selling his football-themed Aston Martin he said: “Oh, it’s you that owns that ghastly car, is it? We often see it when driving to Windsor Castle.”
However, one member of the Royal Family does have strong animal loving credentials, the Queen's daughter Princess Anne. She is known for her interest in horses, she won two silver medals and a gold medal at the European Eventing Championships. This led Prince Phillip to say: "If it doesn’t fart or eat hay, she isn’t interested."