Prince Philip Has Coaxed Rare Black Truffles from British Earth
It took him 12 years, but now, at 97, he’s enjoying the fruit ... er, fungus ... of his horticultural labor.
Fancy truffles – like champagne and caviar – are the sort of comestibles one might classify as “fit for a king,” but Prince Philip (aka the Duke of Edinburgh aka Queen Elizabeth’s husband) has put a literal and surprisingly DIY spin on that classification.
In 2006, the 97-year-old royal consort, who retired from his official duties in 2017, embarked on what would become a 12-year-long endeavor to grow rare black truffles, directing the planting of 300 spore-impregnated saplings on the royal estate at Sandringham, in Norfolk. He apparently didn’t have much success cultivating the crop – until very recently.
Prince Philip’s horticultural pursuit has finally begun to bare fruit, if by “fruit” you mean fancy fungi, the Times reported last week. It is believed to be the first time anyone has successfully harvested a significant number of Perigord noir or black diamond truffles in Britain.
“They have been highly successful,” Adrian Cole of Truffle UK, which supplied the trees for the royal estate, told the Times. “The majority have been the French Perigord black truffle, as good as you get.”
Primarily grown in Italy, France and Spain, Perigord noir truffles, also known as tuber melanosporum, are among the world’s most expensive edible mushrooms. Currently fetching up to $900 a pound, they are also possibly in danger thanks to climate change.
So what will become of the royal crop of the highly coveted fungi? While Sandringham includes a working fruit farm that produces apples, gooseberries and blackcurrents that are sold commercially to support the estate and the original plan was apparently for the black truffles to also be sold, so far, that hasn’t happened, People reports.
“From what I gather, none has been sold,” Cole told the Times of the royal truffles, which Prince Philip was said to have inspected himself, just before Christmas. “They have gone to the house or family.”
And honestly, after 12 years and at age 97, the Duke can hardly be faulted for enjoying the fruit of his pursuit, don’t you think?