Queen Elizabeth may have her corgis, but her son, Prince Charles, has a special bond with red squirrels.
In a new interview with the U.K. magazine Country Life, which Charles guest-edited to mark his 70th birthday on November 14, Prince William revealed his father’s quirky habit of allowing red squirrels into their home, giving them names, and even keeping nuts in his jacket to give to them.
“He is completely infatuated by the red squirrels that live around the [Birkhall] estate in Scotland — to the extent that he’s given them names and is allowing them into the house!” William told the magazine.
“They come into the house at Birkhall and we get them chasing each other round and round inside,” he continued. “If I sit there quietly, they will do so around me. Sometimes, when I leave my jackets on a chair with nuts in the pockets, I see them with their tails sticking out, as they hunt for nuts — they are incredibly special creatures.”
The Duke of Cornwall has been a longtime supporter of environmental issues, and reportedly backs efforts to help the rare squirrels, whose numbers have drastically fallen from 3.5 million to 250,000 in his lifetime. In his interview, Prince William praised his father’s efforts in encouraging a love for the nature and the outdoors.
“His passion for the environment and the natural world is something I want to repeat in the way I raise George, Charlotte and Louis,” he said, adding that some of his earliest memories are from the Balmoral estate in the Highlands of Scotland, “where my father taught me about the natural world around us — from the burns to the trees to the hills. He was also there when I went on my first trip to Africa and helped me learn about the global environment.”
In a recent speech during his visit to Ghana, Prince Charles expressed his concerns for the future of the world, including his soon-to-be fourth grandchild, due to the effects that environmental issues, like plastic pollution, will have.
“I am about to have another grandchild actually. I suspect quite a few of you may too have grandchildren or will do soon,” he said, according to Radar Online. “It does seem to me insanity if we are going to bequeath this completely polluted, damaged and destroyed world to them. All grandchildren deserve a better future."
Although his birthday is not until Nov. 14, the Royal Family celebrated the milestone earlier this year with a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in May, just days after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle married.