Queen Elizabeth, a constitutional monarch who is not supposed to opine on political matters, was caught on video remarking on the supposed inaction of world leaders regarding climate change on Thursday.
“Extraordinary, isn’t it?” she is heard to say while chatting at the opening ceremonies of the Welsh Synedd, or Parliament, alongside Plaid Cymru politician Elie Jones and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, in a conversation regarding what she saw as a lack of concrete action regarding the climate.
Her remarks, made just prior to the climate summit called COP26, were a slam against those national leaders who she stated “talk but don’t do” when it comes to enacting real change to benefit the climate.
News recently emerged revealing that several world leaders will not be attending the summit in Glasgow, including Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who presides over a country that is one of the greatest polluters in the world, as well as Russian resident Vladimir Putin, who begged off the meeting citing Covid-19 fears.
Other leaders who are not expected to make the Glasgow event include include President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil and Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi — whose country also has major issues with environmental protection.
The 95-year-old monarch, overheard while chatting at the Parliamentary opening event in Cardiff, Wales, had her words were picked up and broadcast worldwide, sparking a range of responses from the public.
Queen Elizabeth speaks of her irritation on climate issues
The Queen is heard to say “Extraordinary isn’t it – I’ve been hearing all about COP. Still don’t know who is coming. No idea. We only know about people who are not coming. It’s really irritating when they talk, but they don’t do.”
Jones, the Welsh politician, agreed with Queen Elizabeth, adding “it’s a time for doing.” He then made note of comments made to the BBC by her grandson Prince William earlier this week during which he sharply criticized space tourism and billionaires going into space.
In his opinion, these entrepreneurs, including Sir Richard Branson, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, who are introducing space tourism to the world via their own rocket trips to space, should use their wealth address environmental crises on Earth.
Prince William’s ideas on the state of the climate in general and space tourism in particular, part of an exclusive interview with the BBC, came on the heels of an earlier interview by his father, Prince Charles, who spoke at length to the BBC at his family’s estate in Balmoral.
For his part, Prince William stated “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.”
After Jones’ reference to Prince William’s interview, the Queen broke into an enormous smile and tells him “Yes, I read about that.”
American President Joe Biden will be attending the COP26 event, taking with him no fewer than twelve White House cabinet members and high-ranking officials, including John Kerry, the US’ Climate Envoy and veteran of the Paris negotiations. The Massachusetts politician is expected to remain in Glasgow for two full weeks, engaging in far-reaching climate talks there.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who has faced criticism for his perceived lack of action on the climate front, has stated he will also take part after initially begging off the event.
“It is an important event,” Morrison stated to reporters this week. “The government will be finalising its position to take to the summit. We’re working through those issues with our colleagues and I look forward to those discussions over the next couple of weeks.”
Queen Elizabeth under fire for supposed climate hypocrisy
The Queen is in an especially difficult position as she is not supposed to interfere in the daily political life of the UK — yet the monarchy is one of the largest private landowners there.
Earlier in 2021, Queen Elizabeth bore the brunt of criticism after it was revealed that Crown lawyers had lobbied Scottish ministers, backing an exemption to a law called the Heat Networks Bill, which requires all private land owners to allow the construction of pipelines to heat buildings using renewable energy.
The lobbying effort was indeed successful, making the monarch the only person in Scotland — where her vast estate of Balmoral is located — to be exempt from that law.
The Royal family will make several appearances at the climate summit, after the British government invited them to take part, hoping to ramp up the pressure on some nations to increase their commitment to reducing carbon emissions.
The Queen noted to Jones that she had been watching Prince William “on television this morning saying there’s no point going into space, we need to save the earth”.
In the interview, the man who is second in line to the throne had said that in the past there has been “clever speak, clever words but not enough action” in the campaign against climate change.
He said, looking forward to the Glasgow summit : “I think for COP to communicate very clearly and very honestly what the problems are and what the solutions are going to be, is critical.
“We can’t have more clever speak, clever words but not enough action.”
However, Graham Smith, the spokesman for the anti-monarchist group “Republic” said the royals shouldn’t be speaking about trying to save the environment since “Senior royals routinely make use of helicopters instead of cars and fly longer distances by private jet.
Laws “for thee and not for me?”
“And they all maintain multiple large houses that will have an enormous carbon footprint.
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” he stated, “and allowing people like Charles and William to portray themselves as environmentalists will only harm the cause of tackling climate change.
“Before the princes utter one more word about other people changing their way of life to reduce carbon emissions, they should ditch the helicopters and jets and try living like the rest of us.”
BBC presenter and naturalist Chris Packham is one of the public figures putting pressure on the royals, calling on them to “walk the walk” on climate issues, urging them to “rewild” the vast expanses of land owned by the monarchy.
A letter that spearheaded the effort was signed by more than 100 prominent people in the UK, including scientists, activists, and television personalities.
For his part, Prince Charles has been a proponent of environmental protection for many decades, including the development of organic farming on his 1,000-acre farm in Gloucestershire — at a time when that movement was in its infancy.
In his recent interview, Charles shows off the unspoiled lands of Balmoral, where he has planted vast numbers of trees. Admitting that he was “deeply worried” about the kind of world we are leaving to our children and grandchildren, he adds that “I’ve always felt that we were overexploiting and damaging nature by not understanding how much we depend on everything that nature provides, and also not understanding, or having been somehow trained to believe, that nature is a separate thing from us and that we can just exploit and control and suppress everything about her without suffering the consequences.”
“But if you look into the way Nature operates, the universal principles — as the world of Islam understood so well, after having inherited it from the Greeks and Egyptians — is that underlying everything are the fundamental patterns in the Universe.
“What we are doing with our own economy, is to disrupt Nature’s economy by not following that circular pattern. We have created a linear one, which imagines that you can go on forever, creating ever more growth… without understanding that we actually have to fit together with Nature and the way she does it.”
Prince Charles goes on to charge that not only do humans not realize this reality, “We’ve caused mammoth disruption, we’ve disrupted the whole planet’s system of climate regulation.”