King Charles III: Reigning green

As the UK prepares for the coronation of King Charles III this weekend, it’s worth looking back at his longstanding commitment to environmentalism and sustainability. As a well-established advocate for these causes, and now that he’s about to be crowned King, the world waits with bated breath to see how he will leverage his newfound power to shine a light on important topics, including the global journey towards net-zero emissions.

The green monarch

King Charles III became a vocal advocate for sustainability long before it was fashionable. Over the years, he has tirelessly campaigned for various environmental causes, raising awareness about climate change, deforestation, and dwindling biodiversity. With his passion for organic farming and sustainable agriculture, the then-Prince of Wales did not just preach the importance of these practices but actively engaged in them through his organic farm at Highgrove and his organic food company, Duchy Originals. Tony Juniper, former director of Friends of the Earth and now chair of Natural England, called the King “the most significant environmental figure in history.”

As head of state and leader of the Commonwealth, King Charles is under pressure to remain ‘politically neutral’. In an address to the nation in 2022 he acknowledged how life as heir would differ from life as King, saying “My life will of course change as I take up my new responsibilities. It will no longer be possible for me to give so much of my time and energies to the charities and issues for which I care so deeply.”

“Our natural world is the most precious asset we have.”

(Taken from a statement regarding King Charles III’s WWF-UK presidency as Prince of Wales)

A royal tightrope

However, despite vowing to take a more restrained approach, King Charles has pledged to ‘highlight’ causes. Some believe that the issue of climate change is above party politics, with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese encouraging His Majesty to continue environmental work as “an issue that is about humanity and about our very quality of life and survival as a world”.

What’s more, the line between monarchy and government can be a blurred one. King Charles will have the ears of leaders who can make a difference, including corporate bosses and top members of the government, such as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, with whom he’ll conduct weekly meetings. It is at these it’s thought he could privately push for green reform.

A campaigning heir

Prince William seems to have inherited Charles’ enthusiasm for environmental matters. As Prince of Wales, William is currently head of the Earthshot Prize, which searches for solutions to the world’s most pressing environmental challenges, and is a WildAid ambassador for sharks, rhinos and elephants, of which he has been especially vocal in his efforts to protect the endangered species. Perhaps William will speak up in the areas his father no longer can.

But speaking at a state banquet in Germany in March 2023, Charles stated that both the U.K. and Germany were united by their focus on “promoting global health, net-zero and protecting our shared democratic values.” If his first overseas visit as U.K. monarch is anything to go by, social and environmental themes are firmly on the King’s agenda.

Talking the talk

Furthermore, King Charles III’s dedication to sustainability could inspire individuals to lead greener lives, by emphasising the importance of small, everyday actions in the fight against climate change. For example, in 2010, Charles reduced his reliance on fossil fuels by installing 32 solar panels on the roof of Clarence House, his 200-year-old London residence, with his Highgrove and Ray Mill residences shortly following suit. His example and words have the potential to create a ripple effect, inspiring millions to reconsider their habits and make more sustainable choices.

In conclusion, the upcoming coronation of King Charles III offers an unprecedented opportunity for the United Kingdom and the world to rally behind a leader who genuinely cares about the environment. As we face the existential threat of climate change, having a monarch who is deeply committed to sustainable practices and environmental conservation is more important than ever.

We hope that King Charles III will combine his power and influence with a commitment to the environment to further champion the cause of sustainability, helping to guide our planet towards a greener, more prosperous future.

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