Queen’s ‘irritation’ at lack of climate action is common sense – royal experts

·4-min read
The Queen seemingly revealed her frustration during a ceremony at the Welsh Senedd (Jacob King/PA) (PA Wire)
The Queen seemingly revealed her frustration during a ceremony at the Welsh Senedd (Jacob King/PA) (PA Wire)

The Queen’s suggestion that she is irritated by a lack of action in tackling climate change is a “common sense” response reflecting the views of many, royal commentators have said.

She appeared to express her exasperation just a few weeks before world leaders gather in Glasgow for the Cop26 UN climate change conference.

Royal biographer Penny Junor said the Queen’s view is not “controversial” and echoes the frustration of the Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge, while royal historian Hugo Vickers said her comments would have been supported by the Duke of Edinburgh.

Charles and William have given interviews this week highlighting a need for action to combat the environmental threat the planet faces, and will join the Queen at Cop26 for a series of royal events.

The Queen’s remarks emerged in clips of a conversation filmed on a smart phone during a reception following the opening of the Welsh Senedd on Thursday.

It is rare for the Queen’s thoughts on a political topic to be made public and her comment was made during an unguarded moment when she chatted with the Duchess of Cornwall and Elin Jones, the Welsh Parliament’s Presiding Officer.

In the footage, the Queen reportedly says: “Extraordinary isn’t it… I’ve been hearing all about Cop… still don’t know who is coming… no idea.”

She adds: “We only know about people who are not coming… and it’s really irritating when they talk, but they don’t do.”

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall joined the Queen during her visit to the Welsh Senedd (Jacob King/PA) (PA Wire)
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall joined the Queen during her visit to the Welsh Senedd (Jacob King/PA) (PA Wire)

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced he will attend Cop26, but in a blow to hopes for what could be achieved, China’s president Xi Jinping will not attend, according to The Times newspaper.

Ms Junor said of the Queen’s comments: “I think what she’s said is really not controversial at all, it’s what most people are thinking.

“Charles has been banging his head against a brick wall on this for years, William is out there banging his head and I think it’s absolutely fair enough that she should say what she feels.”

Ahead of the award ceremony for his environmental Earthshot Prize this weekend, William told the BBC “we can’t have more clever speak, clever words but not enough action”.

In a separate interview with the corporation, Charles said “They just talk, the problem is to get action on the ground which is what I’ve been trying to do for the last 40 years”, when it was suggested world leaders would discuss at Cop26 the issues he has been raising for years.

William has spoken several times of the need for action to tackle climate change (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Wire)
William has spoken several times of the need for action to tackle climate change (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Wire)

Mr Vickers said the Queen was not “venting frustration” but purely making a point: “The Queen doesn’t intervene on these things, she usually makes straight forward, and if you think about it, common sense remarks.

“I don’t consider it to be a deeply controversial thing and it’s not an intervention. After nearly 70 years on the throne she’s not going to suddenly break a tradition of a lifetime, which is to always be above politics.

“It’s a fair point to say she likes people to get on with things, something I think would have been much supported by Prince Philip as well.”

In a separate clip recorded of the Queen, Ms Jones reportedly tells the monarch and Camilla: “Exactly, it is a time for doing – and watching your grandson (William) on TV this morning saying there’s no point going to space, we need to save the earth.”

The Queen replied: “Yes, I read that.”

William has criticised the space race, saying the world’s greatest minds need to focus on trying to fix their own planet instead.

His comments, in an interview with BBC Newscast on BBC Sounds, were aired the day after Star Trek’s William Shatner made history by becoming the oldest person in space.

In the lead up to the COP26 climate change conference, anti-monarchy group Republic has said the royals do not deserve any praise for supporting the environment.

Graham Smith, chief executive officer of Republic which campaigns for an elected head of state, criticised the monarchy’s stance on environmental issues.

He said: “The royals need to be challenged on their ‘do as we say’ attitude. They cannot seriously lecture the rest of us on the need to change how we live when they expect to travel by helicopter, private jet and royal train.

“The hypocrisy is staggering, and allowing people like Charles and William to portray themselves as environmentalists will only harm the cause of tackling climate change.”

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