Vegetarian aristocrats and their campaign against the cruelty of Selfridges' foie gras

A campaigning vegetarian duke and duchess are leading an aristocratic revolt against the department store Selfridges from within the walls of a 14th-century ancestral home in Scotland.

The Duke and Duchess of Hamilton, who maintain their position as the head of the peerage in Scotland from their 460-acre estate, Lennoxlove, near Edinburgh, have announced they will boycott the chain in protest at its continued sale of foie gras.

The duchess set out the family's position in a letter to Selfridges' chief executive Paul Kelly in which she described the force-feeding of duck and geese to make the liver pâté as a "grotesque abuse of animals". "As you must surely realise by now, long inflexible pipes are jammed down the throats of ducks and geese as many as three times a day, and several pounds of feed are forced into the animals' stomachs," she protested. "This cruel process causes the birds' livers to become diseased... Some birds have their necks torn open by the pipes, and sometimes the animals' internal organs rupture."

In her letter, which carried the Hamilton crest, the duchess pointed out that Prince Charles had banned foie gras from Royal menus. "I deeply regret to say that my husband and I will boycott Selfridges and encourage our friends and family members to do the same until you end the sale of foie gras," she wrote.

By campaigning against foie gras, the duchess and her husband – whose full name is Angus Alan Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, Duke of Hamilton and Brandon, Premier Peer of Scotland, Hereditary Keeper of Palace at Holyrood House, PC, KT, GCVO, AFC – are allying themselves in principle with members of the Animal Liberation Front, whose protests against foie gras have included throwing a brick through a restaurant window.

The chef Raymond Blanc last year disclosed he had received threatening letters for serving foie gras in his Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in Oxfordshire.

In the past two years retailers have resembled a row of collapsing dominoes by withdrawing their support for foie gras one by one, following peaceful protests by animal welfare groups. The duchess is a veteran of one such campaign having boycotted Jenners department store in Edinburgh in 2000. After she received 400 letters of support from members of the public, Jenners' owners, the House of Fraser group, banned foie gras last year. Its rival group Harvey Nichols removed the product following protests from the vegetarian group Viva!

None of the leading supermarket chains stock the product on welfare grounds but Selfridges has remained one of a few stores to risk the wrath of protesters. Production is banned in 15 countries, including the UK, Germany, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, Denmark and Turkey. However under the Treaty of Rome, France enshrined its right to make and export the product.

Campaigners hope the support of the ducal couple will spur other members of the aristocracy, as well as the public, to boycott Selfridges. "It's a really strong symbol," said Noemie Ventura, the foie gras campaigner at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta). "Selfridges has a royal warrant so it's good that high-profile people like the duchess feel so strongly about foie gras that she is going to boycott it until it stops selling it."

Charles Kidd, editor of Debrett's Peerage & Baronetage, said: "After a member of the Royal Family, the best aristocrat you could get with clout would be a duke or a duchess so the foie gras campaign should be pretty pleased they've got the highest rank of the peerage."

Looking back to her campaign against Jenners, the Duchess said: "One person wrote to us saying: 'It's so good that you are speaking out because you will get reporters phoning you – and we won't." It's sad that a title gets you listened to, but it's a fact."

Selfridges made no comment.

Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

    Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

    The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
    La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape