Naturalist Steve Backshall tries his luck for royal funding while receiving MBE

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Stephen Backshall after receiving the MBE (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)
Stephen Backshall after receiving the MBE (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)

Naturalist Steve Backshall tried his luck asking for royal investment in his latest project as he picked up his MBE at Windsor Castle.

The conservationist and TV presenter, 48, received his gong from the Princess Royal and asked if she would be interested in contributing to his current work.

Backshall said he and Anne chatted about the project, which aims to purchase a large area of rainforest in Guatemala.

“I asked her if she’d fancy investing,” he said, adding: “She laughed.”

Backshall joked: “She didn’t say no.”

Steve Backshall is made an MBE by The Princess Royal (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)
Steve Backshall is made an MBE by The Princess Royal (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)

The project is with the World Land Trust, an international conservation charity which protects biologically important and threatened habitats.

Backshall said children are encouraged to raise money to purchase an area of rainforest the size of their school playing field or tennis court.

“You raise a tenner and you save a tropical tree, you raise £100 and you save half a football pitch, and those are areas that any young person can visualise and can, really, in a tactile way, understand,” he said.

The TV star, who received his honour for services to charity and wildlife conservation, said he is going to Cop26 on Thursday.

Speaking about the summit, Backshall said: “I think it’s intriguing. It’s going to be very difficult to get any genuine big commitment from the nations that haven’t made them already.

“I think the ones that have are showing great appetite for change which is great.

“The thing that I think we most have to gain from Cop is bringing together 35,000 people in one place all working towards a common goal and putting the climate and its immediate requirements on the agenda of everyone.”

Backshall added: “There are still so many people who don’t even really believe climate change is a thing.

“It’s insane that we can be in that position.”

He said it is “bananas” that some people still think that way.

Backshall, known for hosting TV series including Deadly 60 and Blue Planet Live, praised members of the royal family for how “genuine” and “authentic” their interest is in tackling climate change.

Speaking about the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, he said: “It’s something that they are living and that they really, really believe in, and that’s obviously been the case for Prince Charles for the entirety of my lifetime.

“And is clearly now very much on the Queen’s agenda as well.

“It’s really good to see the royals making a big noise about climate and about conservation.

“They have such power and such a strong following of people that to see them using that influence in such a positive way is really exciting.”

Meanwhile, Holocaust survivor John Hajdu picked up his MBE for services to Holocaust education and commemoration.

The 84-year-old, who escaped from Hungary with a teddy which he still has, said it is “wonderful” to be recognised in this way.

“It’s absolutely vital that I’m able to talk to people and explain that this must never happen again,” he said.

Mr Hajdu said he gives as many talks as possible to as many people as possible.

“It’s wonderful to see the reaction of people and the kids ask wonderful questions.

“As I said, I’m living history, and I’m able to give back something to this country and to tell people what I’ve been through,” he said.

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