Wednesday, December 8th, 2021

The Queen and senior royals get punchy on climate

A version of this story appeared in the October 15 edition of CNN’s Royal News, a weekly dispatch bringing you the inside track on the royal family, what they are up to in public and what’s happening behind palace walls. Sign up here.
London When royals speak out on a potentially divisive topic, it makes headlines — but when the three most senior royals do it all in the same week and on the same issue then the world really gets the message.

It started with an interview Prince Charles did with the BBC. He was asked about the world leaders gathering in Glasgow for the COP26 climate conference. “They just talk,” he said. “The problem is to get action on the ground, which I have been trying to do for the last 40 years.”
When Charles started working on the environment in the 1960s, it wasn’t a mainstream issue. It is now, and it’s become highly politicized in some parts of the world, including America. That hasn’t stopped the prince, though. Instead, he has ramped up his rhetoric, believing he has that right, indeed a duty, before he takes the throne, when he will be expected to be completely impartial.
That’s why it was all the more powerful to hear the current monarch express the same view as her son during a visit to Cardiff on Thursday. While attending the opening of the Welsh parliament, the Queen was overheard discussing the climate conference, saying, “It’s very irritating when they talk but they don’t do.”

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The Queen was speaking with the Duchess of Cornwall and Elin Jones, the Welsh Parliament’s presiding officer, when her remarks were caught on tape.
We can assume she didn’t know the conversation was being picked up by a mic on a nearby camera that was livestreaming the event, but her comments are now a matter of public record and very much part of the build-up to COP26, which she will be hosting as head of state. The Queen, as well as other senior royals, will attend a number of engagements at the United Nations climate talks.
Meanwhile, in the midst of all this, Prince William recently slammed billionaires for putting their resources into space tourism instead of investing more money and energy in saving the planet. “We need some of the world’s greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet, not trying to find the next place to go and live,” the Duke of Cambridge told the BBC’s Newscast podcast. His remarks came as 90-year-old “Star Trek” star William Shatner joined a Blue Origin suborbital flight to the edge of outer space (Shatner later responded to the prince’s comments, describing William as “a lovely, gentle, educated man” before adding that the duke was “missing the point.”)
William continued, “We wanted to break it down and try and work out how could we add something that was going to create action, create positivity, create energy towards actually solving some of these problems.”
His solution is “Earthshot,” which aims to become the “most prestigious global environment prize in history, designed to incentivize change and help repair our planet over the next ten years.”
The first awards will be handed out on Sunday at a glittering ceremony at London’s Alexandra Palace to people and projects that provide the “most inspiring and innovative solutions to the greatest environmental challenges facing the planet.”

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William interacts with schoolchildren during a “Generation Earthshot” educational initiative at London’s Kew Gardens on October 13, 2021.
It’s a 10-year project for William and the one he is most committed to away from supporting the monarchy itself. The two duties are inextricably linked and it’s telling that he is following in his father’s footsteps by leaning in to addressing climate and environment challenges.
This isn’t to say that the royals haven’t faced their share of criticism that they could be doing more. Earlier this month, for example, a petition signed by more than 100,000 people was delivered to Buckingham Palace, calling on the family to rewild their huge royal estates.
But as William pointed out to the BBC, in creating his Earthshot initiative, he’s “trying to use my little bit of influence, my little bit of profile, to highlight some incredible people doing amazing things and will genuinely help fix some of these problems.”
Heirs to the throne have traditionally stayed out of the limelight until their time comes to wear the crown. Charles and now William have reimagined the role and given it a renewed purpose, reflective of today’s society and its ideological and cultural shifts.
What William has also done is learn from his father’s missteps. As a result, opinion polls often show him to be more popular than Charles, having largely endeared himself to the public as a conscientious young royal, working to make a difference to the world. All of this puts William in a powerful position for when the time comes for him to ascend the throne.

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