King Charles’ new top doctor is a semi-retired general practitioner who believes in the power of alternative medicine, even suggesting it could cure cancer.
Michael Dixon, 71, has worked in the NHS for almost 50 years and now works as a part-time GP in Devon.
But his other, far more prestigious role is to ensure the health of the royal family as head of the royal medical household.
The role, which involves leading the medical team surrounding the royal family and attending births and deaths in family members, was created by the late Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1973.
However, although the role itself has been around for a long time, Dr Dixon may be the most modern and progressive person to hold the position since it was created, and has previously written papers citing data which suggests ‘the effects of homeopathy may be real’.
King Charles has previously faced criticism for his support of homeopathic practices, and was appointed patron of the Faculty of Homeopathy in 2017.
The Sunday Times reports Dr Dixon has held his post in the royal household for around a year.
During his career, it reports that the physician has written papers suggesting Christian healers may be able to help chronically ill patients, despite this being an ‘unfashionable’ assertion.
In another paper he cited potential benefits of homeopathy, and referred to an experiment that suggested Indian herbal remedies which had been ‘ultra-diluted’ with alcohol might be able to cure cancer.
Dr Dixon has rallied against the suggestion that homeopathy is just a placebo and insists there is not scientific data to back this up.
The medical profession in the UK and around the world is still very much divided on homeopathic remedies. In 2017, they were banned for prescription on the NHS, with then-chief executive Lord Stevens of Birmingham describing them as a ‘misuse of scarce NHS funds’ because they were simply a ‘placebo’.
However, Dr Dixon appears to be one of many medics who opposes Lord Stevens’ view, and has previously suggested some homeopathic remedies should be available on the NHS.
The newspaper reports he has put his support behind calls from advocacy group the College of Medicine for treatments like aromatherapy and reflexology to be offered to NHS patients.
In 2010, he was a voice against MPs who were campaigning to end homeopathic treatments on the NHS, saying we must not ‘abandon’ people who are, so far, not being helped by scientific medicine.
Despite backlash against homeopathy from many in the medical profession, King Charles has long spoken of its potential benefits and has previously come under fire for his stance on the subject.
In 2017, when he was named patron of the Faculty of Homeopathy, the Good Thinking Society, an organisation which describes itself as ‘pro-science and anti-pseudoscience’, said the appointment was ‘obscene’.
Michael Marshall, the organisation’s director, told the Guardian at the time: ‘We have been reminded only recently that plenty of homeopaths claim to be able to treat autism and discourage vaccinations.
‘If [King] Charles wants to have a genuine positive effect on the health of the nation he intends to one day rule, he should side against those who offer dangerously misleading advice, rather than fighting their corner.’
The King has also been embroiled in an historic dispute with Professor Edzard Ernst over his support of homeopathy – with Ernst once labelling him a ‘snake oil salesman’.
In 1993, King Charles founded the Foundation for Integrated Health, which was established to explore the combination of ‘safe, proven complementary therapies’ with modern medicine.