Britain's Princess Anne says eating horse meat should be considered

LONDON (AFP) - She may be known for her love of horses, but Britain's Princess Anne has now suggested that her compatriots should consider eating the animals like the French.

Queen Elizabeth II's daughter, a former eventing champion, said farming the creatures for their flesh in Britain could improve their welfare.

"Our attitudes to the horse meat trade and the value of horse meat may have to change," Princess Anne said in a speech to the World Horse Welfare charity in London on Thursday.

"If that's true then, that they (producers) value their horses, they look after them well, because they're in the horse meat trade... should we be considering a real market for horse meat?

"And would that reduce the number of welfare cases if there was a real value in the horsemeat sector? I chuck that out for what it's worth because I think it needs a debate."

Horse meat consumption is generally taboo in Britain, and Princess Anne's comments come just months after a major European scandal involving horse meat mislabelled as beef.

British newspapers ran headlines about her comments including, "Let Them Eat Horse" - a reference to the executed French queen Marie Antoinette's reported comment "let them eat cake" when asked about the poor.

Princess Anne, who is 11th in line to the British throne, cited France as an example of a country where horse meat is popular.

"As I was reminded not so long ago by somebody who travelled in France, the most expensive piece of meat in the local butcher was a fillet of horse meat," she said.

"We've got to face that. We've got to understand whether that value has also a part to play in how we reduce welfare cases."