Most people now know that King Charles III really care about the environment. It was often repeated in the months following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, especially by people who admire her. What is perhaps less known to the general public is how well respected he is by conservationists.
This year, Charles reportedly canceled plans to attend COP27 in Egypt last week due to advice from Liz Trussthe short-lived administration, which was continued by the new Prime Minister, but he welcomed a reception at Buckingham Palace for over 200 politicians and activists who were on their way to Egypt. For Charles, trips to the United Nations Climate Change Conferences aren’t just about keeping up appearances, he’s actually taking part. At the 2015 COP21 in Paris, where a historic treaty was to be negotiated, Charles used his opening speech to remind attendees to think about the world they were leaving to their grandchildren. During his last trip to COP26 in Glasgow, Charles gave four separate speeches and introduced a video message from his mother.
One of the obvious reasons for his passion for the environment is that he was simply in the right place at the right time. Historians have named 1970 as the year environmental threats broke into the mainstream, and as a 22-year-old finished his university degree in anthropology and archeology and planned his career, concern came naturally. For a handful of baby boomers, caring for the environment has become a countercultural way of life, and although Charles was never a committed member of the return to earth movementsome of his beliefs and practices – from his organic farm in Highgrove to his concerns about GMOs – weren’t too far off.
Yet Charles remained unusually committed to environmental concerns even after the late 1970s, perhaps because it spoke to something deeper within him. Through environmental discourses spanning five decades, he described his interest in the environment in elementary terms, speaking of beauty, awareness, synthesis and imagination. He’s also been remarkably astute when it comes to incorporating new information and keeping up with the movement’s buzzwords. But engaging with her story in the movement also helps illustrate some of the pitfalls that have made climate action much more difficult to achieve.
The future king made his first forays into environmental concerns long before global warming was on the agenda. On a dull day in February 1970, Charles followed his father, Prince Philip, to a hall in Strasbourg town hall for a conference on wildlife conservation. In a dark suit, looking younger than his 22 years, Charles sat in the audience as his father delivered a speech about resource depletion, endangered wildlife and the need to set aside more land for conservation. These are the issues that Philip spent most of his life on, and they were pretty normal concerns for European royalty at the time. Charles and Philip were joined by four other European princes at the conference, which brought together government officials and campaigners to launch the European Year of Conservation.
In 1970, Charles had already been involved in the planning of the European Year of Conservation for almost two years. Many of Charles’ decisions regarding education and employment were planned by Queen Elizabeth II and her advisers, and his early forays into the world of environmental activism were prompted by their desire for him to make more connections. close to Wales. In 1968, Charles began to prepare for his responsibilities as heir apparent by spending more time in the country. First, he chaired a committee to plan the nation’s participation in the next European Year of Conservation, his first time leading a meeting. The following year he returned to take a summer Welsh language course before his lavish investiture at Caernarfon Castle in July 1969.
Charles’ trip to France in 1970 was part of a larger plan to launch him into his career in public life. His university education would end that spring, so for the year following his investiture he embarked on a busy travel schedule to serve as a royal apprentice before beginning his military training at the Royal Navy College, Dartmouth. After leaving the Strasbourg conference, Charles traveled to Paris to attend the state funeral of French leader Charles de Gaulle.