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The Queen and senior royals get punchy on climate

Analysis by Max Foster and Lauren Said-Moorhouse, CNN

Updated: Fri, 15 Oct 2021 16:13:17 GMT

Source: CNN

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."

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."

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.

HAVE YOUR SAY

We're keen to find out what you think about the most talked about royal moments of the week, so we're introducing a new Q&A section! Send us your views by emailing royalnews@cnn.com and we'll look at featuring a few in an upcoming edition.

To kick things off: Is William right to criticize the billionaire space race?

DID YOU KNOW?

The Sussexes are joining forces with a sustainable investment firm.

Harry and Meghan are hoping to lead by example with their latest business venture. The pair are partnering with Ethic, a relatively new firm that promotes investment in companies with good environmental, social and governance (ESG) track records, the company confirmed in a blog post Tuesday. "My husband has been saying for years, 'Gosh, don't you wish there was a place where if your values were aligned like this, you could put your money to that same sort of thing?'" Meghan told the New York Times, which first reported the partnership. The pair told the newspaper that friends had told them of the firm, which now also manages some of their investments. The couple also revealed their hope that aligning with the company could help make sustainable investing more accessible. Find out more about Harry and Meghan's growing business empire.

ANNOUNCEMENT

London police drop investigation into sexual assault allegations against Andrew.

A source close to Prince Andrew, Duke of York has told CNN it "comes as no surprise" that London's police force has opted to end its most recent inquiry into the royal over the allegations of historical sexual abuse leveled against him by Virginia Roberts Giuffre. The Metropolitan Police Service decided "no further action" would be taken earlier this week after reviewing documents, including one released in August as part of Giuffre's ongoing civil suit in the United States. "Despite pressure from the media and claims of new evidence, the Met have concluded that the claims are not sufficient to warrant any further investigation. The Duke has always vigorously maintained his innocence and continues to do so," the source added. Read the latest.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK

Give it up for the Queen, who sought to normalize aging this week after stepping out in public with a cane in hand. Much was made after the 95-year-old was seen Tuesday using the walking aid while attending a service at Westminster Abbey to mark the centenary of UK armed forces charity the Poppy Legion. We're hearing from a royal source that the sovereign opted for the stick for "comfort." Multiple British media outlets reported the occasion to be the first time she has used an aid for support at a major public event. In case you were wondering why we made that distinction about "comfort," it's because she previously used a cane back in 2003 -- but that was for medical reasons (after surgery to remove torn cartilage from her right knee). The Queen also used the walking aid while attending the opening of the Welsh parliament on Thursday with Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla.

WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING?

Harry and Meghan aren't returning to the UK for Diana celebration.

A spokesperson for the Sussexes has confirmed to CNN that the couple will not be attending an upcoming celebration honoring Princess Diana. There has been much speculation in the British media over whether the pair would be headed across the pond for the party, which will reportedly bring together up to 100 guests at Kensington Palace. The celebration was originally set to take place back in July alongside the unveiling of the commemorative Diana statue (which Harry did return for) on what would have been the Princess of Wales' 60th birthday. The event has been planned to thank donors who helped finance the memorial sculpture. While Harry won't be in attendance, he is privately in touch with donors, a source close to the couple told CNN.

DON'T MISS

Think you know the difference between reality and Netflix's "The Crown?" Test your knowledge with CNN's new quiz and see if you can spot which scenes are real and which ones are fiction.

And if you're eager to find out more about the person behind the princess, you'll want to tune in on Sunday for the second episode of "Diana," CNN's new six-part documentary about the beloved royal. This week's episode delves into royal rivalries, exploring Diana's feelings of being sidelined by the wider family and the lingering presence of another woman in her marriage to Prince Charles. New episodes air Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

FROM THE ROYAL VAULT

In Charles' BBC climate interview this week, which was filmed at his Birkhall residence in Scotland, the heir to the throne also revealed that he empathized with Greta Thunberg and other climate activists who feel frustrated at the lack of climate action. Charles said one of the reasons the environment has been such an important area for him is because he recognized years ago that "in the end people would get fed up." He added: "I totally understand. Because nobody would listen, they see their future being totally destroyed."

He previously described the teen climate warrior as "remarkable" when he sat down with CNN at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January last year. Revisit our chat with Charles below:

The Duke of Sussex announced his own new environmental campaign Thursday. He's partnered with Re:wild, a conservation non-profit organization, to try to prevent oil drilling from taking place in the region. He and other climate activists are calling for people to sign an open letter in support of the area's protection.


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