King Charles Urged to Drop Pigeon Racing Ahead of Coronation

London – Just weeks shy of the coronation ceremony and coinciding with the start of pigeon racing season, PETA sent a letter to King Charles urging His Majesty to cut ties with the cruel races and to turn the Sandringham loft into a sanctuary for lost, injured, and unwanted birds. The plea for pigeons follows the king’s recent decision to ban foie gras from royal residences – a great victory for birds of another species, which PETA thinks sets a precedent for more progress.

In its letter, the group points to the widespread abuse of pigeons, including birds from the Royal Loft. One race from France to Sandringham (over 600 miles) includes a harrowing portion across the English Channel, known as the “pigeon graveyard” because so many birds die there. A PETA US investigation into another race the royal family entered pigeons into, the South African Million Dollar Pigeon Race (SAMDPR), revealed that most of the birds who started the race didn’t live to see the finish line. In recent years, just five of the 42 pigeons the royal household sent to South Africa for this race survived. The industry typically kills any surviving birds who are not winners.

“Most of the winning birds at the SAMDPR, or other races, the survivors, are auctioned off to become what fanciers rightly call ‘prisoners’ – to be locked up for their entire lives, used for breeding, and never allowed to fly again,” writes PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk. “We hope you will conclude upon reflection that exploiting pigeons’ extraordinary homing abilities is cruel, and ill-suits Britain’s reputation as a nation that cares deeply about animals”.

Pigeons have their own culture, mate for life, dote on their young, and pass the “mirror test”, demonstrating self-awareness and intelligence. These fascinating and heroic birds have earned more Dickin Medals – the equivalent of the Victoria Cross for animals – than any other species for saving the lives of civilians and members of the armed forces during World War II and subsequent conflicts.

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” – opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on FacebookTwitterTikTok, or Instagram.


Sascha Camilli +44 (0) 20 7923 6244; [email protected]