Prince William visits Cardiff to celebrate Welsh seaweed industry

The Prince of Wales at ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre, in Cardiff
Prince William speaking to staff at the Zero2Five food industry centre in Cardiff - Geoff Caddick/AFP

The Prince of Wales has joked about not playing golf again because of a head injury, while he admired golf tees made of seaweed in Cardiff.

Prince William, 41, has a Harry Potter-type scar where a fellow school pupil accidentally hit him on the forehead with a golf club in 1991.

On Tuesday, he admired sustainable product and packaging company Notpla’s new all-seaweed golf tees and spoke to co-founder and former Earthshot Prize winner Pierre Paslier.

Asked if he played golf, William said no, and gestured to the scar, adding: “Ask me what’s happened to me up here – it was a golf club!”

He was reunited with Mr Paslier during a fact-finding seaweed day at Cardiff Metropolitan University to discuss new investment and innovation in the sector.

William met a range of entrepreneurs who are using the marine plant super-material to create sustainable alternatives to products such as single-use plastics – and even pet food.

The Prince meeting crowds outside
William speaking to the public outside the event - Geoff Caddick/AFP

In making the visit, the heir to the throne reaffirmed his keen interest in using seaweed sustainably to replace environmentally damaging materials.

Speaking to the co-founders of one of the companies, Welsh regenerative ocean farming business Car-y-Mor, the Prince said he believes we’re only scratching the surface in this field.

“The amount of benefits of seaweed farming are great, it’s sort of an untapped resource at the moment like we’re scratching away at the top,” he told the co-founders.

He added: “But for me, the social aspect is what excites me more than anything else. It’s obviously wonderful for businesses and the market and other aspects – and the environmental side of it is fantastic.

“But the social side of it, especially on the world’s coastlines, could be huge. So today is about fact-finding, asking what we can do.”

Prince William used Tuesday’s event to highlight the various global businesses using the marine plants, and took a particular interest in Seamegrow, a natural bio-fertiliser developed by a group of seaweed farmers on the west coast of Ireland.

The Prince tries a snack made of seaweed in Cardiff
The Prince tries a snack made of seaweed in Cardiff - Geoff Caddick/AFP

He also toured stalls for Project Blu, the first global pet brand to offer a full range of sustainable accessories and seaweed-based ingredients for pet food, as well as trying out a High Tide seaweed snack bar.

Speaking to university staff afterwards, William said: “I’ve been learning about seaweed this morning, lots of cool things about seaweed.”

Asked if he liked seaweed, he admitted he needed a “few more flavours” when eating it. “I’m trying it out though,” he added. “There are lots of health benefits, it’s really exciting.”

The visit was hosted by William’s Earthshot Prize and Derek Walker, the future generations commissioner for Wales.

Earthshot businesses that attended included the 2023 finalist, Sea Forest, as well as Notpla.

William’s Earthshot environmental prize is intended to both discover and scale up pioneering solutions to the most pressing climate issues.

Prince William looks at bread
The Prince looked at golf teas, bread and other products - India McTaggart/X

It was hoped the Cardiff event would motivate businesses to invest in the seaweed industry and the solutions being developed as sustainable and ecological alternatives.

Seaweed hails from a marine group of more than 12,000 known species, which makes it particularly versatile for use in different products.

Unlike many land-based materials, seaweed doesn’t need fresh water, fertiliser or pesticides to grow, “so it’s much more ethical to produce”, Mr Paslier explained.

Notpla, one of the most successful Earthshot winners, now supplies sustainable seaweed packaging to seven out of 20 Premier League club stadiums, including Prince William’s favourite Aston Villa FC.

Prince William meeting one of the companies
It was hoped the event would help raise awareness of the potential of seaweed as a material and ingredient - India McTaggart/X

William double-checked this fact on Tuesday with Mr Paslier, asking: “You’re getting there slowly slowly, is Aston Villa one of them?”

He responded “good” when it was confirmed the football club was indeed taking part.

Mr Paslier also stressed to the Prince the importance of creating a seaweed extraction plant in the UK in order to scale up production, citing Wales as the perfect place for it.

Speaking after the pair discussed manufacturing possibilities for the plant, Mr Paslier said the Prince “really knows his seaweed”.