Princess Anne believes gassing is the most humane way to remove badgers, if they need to be culled to halt the spread of bovine TB.

The Princess Royal will express her view on badger culling in a “frank and forthright” interview to be aired by the BBC.

She will say: “If we want to control badgers, the most humane way of doing it is to gas them.”

The interview with reporter Tom Heap was recorded at Gatcombe Park in Gloucestershire, where Princess Anne runs a working farm. It will be broadcast on BBC Countryfile this Sunday (6 April).

The Princess Royal will also give her opinions on other farming issues, including the use of genetically modified crops, affordable housing in the countryside and Prince William’s decision to take up a career in farming.

Read also: DEFRA scientists are currently researching gassing badger setts as an alternative method of culling to tackle TB .

The princess, who is president of the World Horse Welfare Charity, will also discuss horse welfare and raise the question over whether we should consider eating horsemeat in the UK.

Bill Lyons, executive director, of BBC Countryfile, said: “HRH Princess Anne is a working farmer who is also patron of nearly 50 countryside organisations – as such she has a unique perspective on Britain’s rural agenda.

Countryfile will explore her views in a frank and wide-ranging interview which I’m sure will offer our viewers some very surprising insights.”

But the Humane Society International (HSI) UK said it was “extremely disappointing that a member of the royal family had “endorsed the gassing of badgers, a protected indigenous animal”.

Mark Jones, veterinarian and executive director of Humane Society International UK, said: “It is extremely disappointing that a prominent member of the royal family should endorse the gassing of a supposedly protected indigenous wild mammal.

“Gassing experiments carried out at Porton Down in the early 1980s were abandoned because of the appalling levels of suffering to which the badgers were exposed.

“Lethal concentrations of gases in complex badger sets are difficult to achieve, making sub-lethal exposure and associated suffering highly likely. Any attempt to reintroduce gassing would doubtless result in a slow and painful death for many badgers, and potentially other non-target animals.”