Protesters who targeted a portrait of King Charles with graffiti have compared the monarch's brand of climate activism to a "billionaire's gardening hobby".
On Wednesday, members of the climate direct action group This is Rigged entered the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and spray painted the glass cover of the portrait with the words "the people are mightier than a lord”.
The group said it was part of their campaign to force the Scottish government to oppose all new gas and oil licensing and facilitate a fair transition for fossil fuel workers.
The King is widely acknowledged to have been a positive force for conservation and sustainability over the years, but the group told Yahoo News Charles's approach to environmentalism "feels like a billionaire's gardening hobby".
They said: "[He is] in some ways an environmentalist, but he's still a king and he's still a billionaire. We are trying to point out that this is about climate, but it's about everything as well. It's about inequality — the King's due to get a 45% pay rise in two years, while most people are struggling in this cost of living crisis".
Watch: Climate activists spray paint King Charles's portrait
The group compared the King to a "modern-day laird", which informed their choice of slogan that they spray painted onto the portrait's glass cover.
"The people are mightier than a lord" was the motto of the Highland Land League, a political movement of the late 19th century that promoted the rights of crofters in the north of Scotland following the devastating Highland Clearances.
A spokesperson said: "The Highland Clearances mainly happened in the 1800s. They were done by a mixture of English and lowland Scots landlords who decided that it was more profitable to have sheep on the land in the Highlands than people and so they began to violently clear thousands and thousands of people, destroy the Highland way of life and food production systems.
"People had to flee. They fled on boats to the so-called 'New World' at the time: to America, New Zealand, Australia and they also fled to the cities. And that's why, you know, we still have high kind of Highland roots in Glasgow and Edinburgh."
The spokesperson also told Yahoo News that: "'The people are mightier than the Lord' still applies now. And it means when we come together and and decide to fight these people, then we can win. And so it's just about reclaiming our land and our futures from these lairds who want to hoard it and destroy it."
In 2021, when the Prince of Wales, Charles said in an interview with the BBC that he understood the frustrations of climate activists, but they needed to find more constructive means of protests other than activism like blocking roads.
"Of course I [sympathise with activists], yes. All these young people feel nothing is ever happening so of course they’re going to get frustrated," Charles said.
"I totally understand because nobody would listen and they see their future being totally destroyed.
"But it isn’t helpful, I don’t think, to do it in a way that alienates people. So I totally understand the frustration, the difficulty is how do you direct that frustration in a way that is more constructive rather than destructive."
This is Rigged's spokesperson told Yahoo News "those comments are unsurprising from him. He is the king and a member of the Royal Family. He's never going to be pro-breaking the law or anything that could really disrupt things and potentially also bring about radical change. That would be a dangerous precedent for him to set."
This is Rigged told Yahoo News that they plan to continue protesting until they have reached their aims.
Their spokesperson also said they doubted whether Charles would like their protest style - or the fact they targeted his portrait - and that they "don't think [he'd] appreciate being connected to the Highland Clearances [or] connected to the destruction of our land and futures.
"But that doesn't mean it's not correct. Often if these, like I say, modern-day lairds are feeling uncomfortable by our messaging then we're doing exactly what we should be doing."
Charles the campaigner
Charles's history of being a vocal environmentalist dates back more than 50 years, when he gave a speech warning of the dangers of plastic pollution at age 22.
He said in 2020 about his now-seemingly prescient warnings "I was considered rather dotty, to say the least, for even suggesting these things, rather like when I set up a reed-bed sewage treatment system at Highgrove all those years ago - that was considered completely mad".
Charles has co-authored a book on climate change, supported many charities and environmental initiatives through his Prince of Wales Charitable Fund amongst other philanthropic means, advocated for sustainable farming methods and launched the Sustainable Markets Initiative in 2019.
Although he is expected to be less vocal as monarch about these issues, he still spoke about "the existential challenge of climate change and global warming which confronts us all" in a speech at the German Bundestag in March, and doesn't seem likely to entirely shy away from the topic, although he may take a more measured approach and apply a softer touch.
The government advised the new King last October not to attend Cop-27 in Egypt, where he was expected to give a speech, which signalled that they would not be keen for Charles to weigh in too often to the highly politicised climate crisis.