Charles III – The Environmentalist King
King Charles III has always had a passionate and deeply rooted love of the outdoors and a desire to protect the environment. Will he use his influence to persuade the UK and other countries to adopt stricter climate policy?
Grant Brown, Founder, Happy Eco News
Since his first public speech as a young prince, King Charles III has been an impassioned and thoughtful advocate for the environment. In 1970 at age 20, the then prince stood before UK Parliament, imploring them to take action on pollution problems in the UK. Outspoken on environmental issues ever since, he was first portrayed as naive and inexperienced in the ways of the world. Later, as an adult, he was portrayed as an oddball; a royal that was out of touch with the reality of regular people.
I have always admired those oddballs regardless of their position in society. I like the people who intuitively understand our planet and its systems and can see when there is an imbalance. Even more, I admire someone who doesn’t mince at telling it like it is when they see the direction the world is being led. Someone who knows it is wrong to keep quiet despite the discomfort it brings to those who profit from inaction. I would argue that people like King Charles are more “in touch” than any of their counterparts, those who would continue the race toward the precipice, without consideration.
Twenty years later, in 1990, the then-prince wrote a letter to prominent Canadian scientist and environmentalist Dr. David Suzuki. Suzuki had earlier presented a speech on his own views of the world, which, even then in 1990, explained that we were like the proverbial frog in a pot of water, already running out of time as the water starts to boil. A text Suzuki’s speech eventually made its way to the prince, resonating so deeply with him that he sent Dr. Suzuki a letter and an invitation to meet. In the letter, the prince, at age 40, in a time when few people outside of scientists were enlightened to the effects of climate change, explains how much he felt the need to rock the boat on environmental issues. He explained there was so much pushback from all sides, telling him to stay apolitical that he didn’t know how to proceed. His question to Dr. Suzuki was should he proceed with activism? Should he be the one to rock the boat?
The King of England is an environmentalist. He is one of us, and if we are lucky, he will become an even stronger activist too. Some might argue he already is, by how he chooses to live his own life and use his influence on politicians that make laws.
Charles’ son, Prince William, is now next in line to the throne and while maybe not as fervent, is also an environmentalist. His activities with charitable organizations range from lending his name to the Earthshot Challenge and his patronage of Fauna & Flora International (the world’s oldest international wildlife conservation organization). William, it appears, will follow in his father’s footsteps, and I would also imagine he will pass this love of nature to his own children, one of which will likely become monarch one day too.
But right now, what we really need is impact. The King of England cannot commit his country to any specific enforceable climate action, but his role has great influence. King Charles III is now a very powerful person, and his words carry weight in England and beyond. In the UK, any politicians deciding to side with big oil, destructive industries or anti-environmental legislation should think twice. His influence on the voting public is huge, and he could make or break a run for public office with minimal effort if he chose to do so. While Queen Elizabeth held great power and influence after an exemplary 70 years as queen, she was a royal of her time and maintained largely apolitical, careful to never really rock the boat on any one issue.
I believe that King Charles just might choose to take a stand and draw a line in the sand. Thirty-two years after his letter to Dr. Suzuki, he knows we are now at the precipice, and there is no more time to stall. At age 72, when many seriously think of legacy and what they will leave behind, a man like King Charles may decide that there is nothing to lose by taking action. Or, more to the point, he may decide that it is his duty as king to do his utmost to protect his people from climate catastrophe.
Time will tell, and my gut says we have not even seen the beginning of King Charles III as our environmental king.