A Beverly Hills plastic surgeon has given a financial boost to Prince Charles’s vision for a complementary health centre in a deprived part of Scotland.
Gabriel Chiu, a celebrity cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon, and his wife Christine, joined the Prince of Wales as he opened the integrated health and wellbeing centre on the Dumfries House Estate in East Ayrshire this week.
The philanthropic couple and the prince are both strong advocates of alternative therapies.
The glamorous setting of Beverly Hills couldn’t be more distant or different from the disadvantaged communities in Ayrshire that the centre has been set up to help.
Asked why he’d wanted to get involved, Mr Chiu told Sky News: “I believe that there is a place for alternative medicine and treatments alongside traditional medicine.
“I have long been an advocate for holistic treatments and medication for over 20 years, recommending the homeopathic medication Arnica and the herbal medication Bromelain to surgery patients for recovery.
“Also, I have personally experienced the benefits of alternative therapies and herbal medications where traditional medication failed me.
“When Prince Charles invited us to become involved with his vision at Dumfries House, it was a very compelling opportunity to not only help the community, but to see how much good could be done with the full arsenal of traditional, holistic, herbal, homeopathic, and naturopathic medicines and therapies.
“It was very exciting to discuss the possibilities and the research of their combined use with the doctors and practitioners involved. We hope that it will be a model for future medical integration throughout the world.”
His wife said: “We are humbled to support HRH Prince Charles’ passion for revitalising and uniting communities through the Centre.
“The collaboration of Eastern therapies with traditional (Western) medicine in addressing physical and emotional health reflects the core purpose of The Princes’ Foundation – ‘to champion and celebrate the most important part of any community: its people’.
“We find no greater honour than to infect health and happiness.”
The new building is the next step for a health and wellbeing programme that’s been running on the estate since 2016.
Local doctors have helped to shape the service after identifying obesity, diabetes, menopausal health, chronic pain and fertility problems as key issues in the area.
GPs refer patients from nearby towns and villages for complementary therapies including reflexology, acupuncture and hypnotherapy, as well as sessions in yoga, mindfulness and cookery classes.
The Prince of Wales is a keen supporter of complementary medicine, but has been criticised by some medical professionals for “preaching” about the benefits of alternative therapies like homeopathy.
Sky News understands that homeopathy is offered by the Dumfries House Integrated Health and Wellbeing programme.
Two lodges at the centre have been named after the Chius six-month-old baby Gabriel Christian III. They are also patrons of The Prince of Wales US Foundation.
Since Prince Charles took over Dumfries House 12 years ago, potential charity donors have been invited to the estate to find out more about his vision, and attend dinners hosted by the prince himself.
Everything on the estate is funded by donors and through the proceeds of commercial activities, such as the weddings, accommodation and restaurants on the grounds.
There are those who believe the royals should be more transparent about how they get funding for their charity projects.
Anti-monarchy campaigner Dani Beckett said: “The royals need to come clean about their relationships with wealthy donors.
“What we have here is yet another Prince Charles vanity project, funded by a wealthy friend in order to promote his own interest in treatments which have been described by the Chief Medical Officer as ‘rubbish’.
“Any charity would be expected to be fully transparent in the promises they make to funders but Charles’ philanthropy is clearly limited to courting wealthy donors behind closed doors in order to advance his own agenda.”
The Prince’s Foundation is subject to the same regulations as any other charity and there is no suggestion that it has been operating outside of the strict guidelines and governance laid out by the Charity Commission. The Foundation says that all donations and expenditure are listed in their annual accounts and available via Companies House.
Unveiling a plaque at the new centre on Tuesday, the Prince of Wales said: “It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for the last 35 years. I’m also so proud of all the team at Dumfries House who built it, an all in-house team.
“To reach this point where we can now offer a range of social prescribing opportunities is enormously encouraging and I hope it will be able to make some difference to a lot of the health issues that exist in this area.”
The Prince sees Dumfries House as an exemplar of what can be done to help local communities that are in need, and hopes the ethos behind it can be replicated in other parts of the country.
When he turned 70 last year the Prince’s Foundation announced plans to take on seven smaller regeneration projects to turn landmark buildings into useful community spaces.