King Charles breaks royal tradition with controversial decision

King Charles stands under umbrella
King Charles during the launch of the Coronation Food Project (Getty)

King Charles has made a new appointment that appears to fly in the face of royal tradition, The Sunday Times reports.

The head of his royal medical household, a role established by Queen Elizabeth II, has been revealed to be Dr Michael Dixon, 71, a fan of homeopathy and Christian healers.

In the past, his role was filled by a gastrointestinal specialist, a professor of nephrology and the former president of the Royal College of Physicians.

King Charles delivers opening address at Cop28
Charles recently called for environmental change at Cop28 (Getty)

The previous head of the royal medical household, Sir Huw Thomas, was appointed in 2005 and later knighted. He was part of the team who cared for the Princess of Wales during her pregnancy and the birth of Princess Charlotte in 2015 and Prince Louis three years later.

He was also a professor of gastrointestinal genetics at Imperial College London. While still working two days a week at an NHS GP surgery in Devon, Dr Dixon has written papers recommending Christian healing for the chronically ill as well as claiming "the effects of homeopathy may be real".

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales attend the 2017 Braemar Highland Gathering
The King takes a different approach to his late mother (Samir Hussein/WireImage)

While homeopathy used to be available on the NHS in some areas, it was scrapped in 2017 when the chief executive described it as "at best a placebo". In the past, Charles has expressed his openness to complementary therapies, including telling the World Health Organisation in 2006 the government needed to "abandon their conventional mindset" when it came to medication.

In a statement to The Sunday Times about Dr Dixon, Buckingham Palace said: "His position is that complementary therapies can sit alongside conventional treatments, where they are safe, appropriate and evidence-based."

King Charles III looks on during a Commonwealth and Nature reception
The King is reportedly open to alternative therapies (Getty)

Edzard Ernst, a retired academic physician and author of the book Charles, The Alternative Prince, told The Scientist last year that King Charles "takes a great interest in [alternative medicine]" and "wants to use – as much as possible – alternative medicine in the NHS nationally and in medicine globally".

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While Charles is sometimes seen as the only one of the royals to espouse alternative viewpoints, he isn't the first person in his family to experiment with complementary therapies, including homeopathy.

As the publication reported after the monarch acceded to the throne, the late Queen was previously patron of the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, which was later renamed the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine, and the hospital's medical director, Peter Fisher, worked as the monarch's homeopathic physician for more than a decade.

However, the Queen never made any statement about homeopathy or any type of medical treatment.

What does the NHS say about homeopathy?

According to the NHS website: "Homeopathy is a 'treatment' based on the use of highly diluted substances, which practitioners claim can cause the body to heal itself. A 2010 House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report on homeopathy said that homeopathic remedies perform no better than placebos (dummy treatments).

"In 2017 NHS England said it would no longer fund homeopathy on the NHS as the lack of any evidence for its effectiveness did not justify the cost. This was backed by a High Court judgement in 2018."

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