The Princess Royal, a former British eventing champion, claimed that horse owners may take better care of their animals when they are alive if they believed they could sell them for meat.
Her comments follow warnings by charities of a horse welfare crisis, with 7000 horses currently at risk of abandonment and neglect.
Speaking at the annual conference of the World Horse Welfare charity in central London on Thursday, the princess, who is president of the organisation, said: "Our attitudes to the horsemeat trade and the value of horsemeat may have to change.
"If that's true then, that they value their horses, they look after them well, because they're in the horsemeat trade...should we be considering a real market for horsemeat and would that reduce the number of welfare cases if there was a real value in the horsemeat sector?"
[Meanhwile, back in January burgers from UK supermarket chain Tesco were found to have horsemeat instead of beef, sparking a scandal in Britain and Europe. ]
Investigations found other beef products sold by retailers including lasagne and spaghetti bolognese were contaminated while meals in schools and hospitals had to be withdrawn after it was found they contained horse meat.
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