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Opinion | Post Elizabeth: Will Charles be silent on environmental issues?

Opinion | Post Elizabeth: Will Charles be silent on environmental issues?

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Will the Climate King be quieted? That’s a critical question emerging from news that Britain’s King Charles III would not attend the COP27 climate conference in Egypt next month. The Times of London reported last weekend, citing anonymous sources, that Prime Minister Liz Truss had “told him to stay away.” Follow-ups focused on whether the king had been “ordered” not to attend. (Such suggestions are not true, a Truss Cabinet official said.) “The Palace said advice had been sought by the King and given by Ms. Truss,” BBC reported, with agreement reached in “ ‘mutual friendship and respect.’ ”

During his long tenure as heir to the throne, Charles shared many opinions and built a reputation for green activism. “In damaging our climate we become the architects of our own destruction,” he warned at the COP climate gathering in Paris in 2015. “Global warming, climate change and the devastating loss of biodiversity are the greatest threats humanity has ever faced,” he told the World Economic Forum at Davos in 2020. “We now have a dangerously narrow window of opportunity in which to accelerate a green recovery,” he said last October.

In his first address as king, Charles acknowledged that he would have less freedom as monarch — traditionally an apolitical role — to engage in “the charities and issues for which I care so deeply.” Royal fans and critics alike are watching to see whether he is more circumspect in his new role.

Additional context: The royal family’s official overseas trips are coordinated with the British government. Even if Prime Minister Liz Truss might not agree with Charles’s climate advocacy, opposition here could have been rooted in arranging a more diplomatically strategic early trip abroad.

One way that Charles might stay above the fray but signal royal backing for green measures? Send the new heir to the throne, Prince William, to the Egyptian gathering.

ICYMI: Not so fast with that “climate king” label, cautions Post reporter Shannon Osaka.

Here’s video of Charles’s first address as king:

King Charles III addressed the United Kingdom in a prerecorded speech for the first time after his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, died in Scotland at age 96. (Video: The Washington Post)

Coronation update: Yes, we have heard the rumors about early next summer, but: Buckingham Palace has yet to confirm a date. We’ll let you know when the timing is official. Some factors do favor early June: The weather might be kinder to large crowds (thousands are expected to line the procession route), and that timing could dovetail with a spring bank holiday already on the books. The sovereign’s official birthday is marked each June with a military parade.

So long, consort: The Times of London has reportedly instructed its writers to stop referring to the wife of the king as the queen consort in favor of “the queen.” Technically, consort is correct: Because Charles is the sovereign, his wife is his consort. There’s no derision in that fact, but some see references to Queen Consort Camilla as throwing some majestic shade, a way to qualify her status as queen. There’s sensitivity around the term because when Charles and Camilla got engaged, out of deference to fans of his first wife, Princess Diana, the couple said it was intended that Camilla would take the title Princess Consort on Charles’s ascension to the throne. In February, however, Queen Elizabeth II announced that she hoped Camilla would one day be known as queen consort, effectively smoothing the path for her daughter-in-law to be queen once Charles became king.

Core four: Buckingham Palace released a photo last weekend of the four most senior royals as formal mourning for Queen Elizabeth ended. The king and queen consort and the new Prince and Princess of Wales (better known as Prince William and Kate Middleton) are seen standing in front of a portrait of George III. Americans might recognize the name as the king we revolted against; here, he’s symbolic as Britain’s longest-reigning male monarch, adding to the image’s message of continuity. Charles’s relaxed confidence — hand in pocket, arm around his wife — is notable, but so is the dark clothing that makes the portrait an unusual choice to mark the start of a new reign. The picture was taken Sept. 18, before a reception for world leaders in London for the queen’s funeral.

Out and about: With the royals’ mourning period over, public activities have resumed. Events this week include Charles and Camilla marking the new city status of Dunfermline, Scotland. The king signed a visitors’ book — and made light of his past frustrations with a leaky pen. Props to him for being able to laugh at himself; that’s both appealing and a way to undercut circulation of less flattering moments.

William and Kate headed to Northern Ireland on Thursday, where they visited a suicide-prevention charity in Belfast as well as a street market. What’s the royal spin on shaking things up? A mixology competition. See the video they posted to Twitter about who mixed fastest. Outdoors, while shaking hands with people in the crowd, Kate was heckled by one woman but kept her cool.

Earlier this week, William attended a United for Wildlife summit in London, where he gave his first speech since becoming Prince of Wales. “Our natural world is one of our greatest assets,” the prince said. “It is a lesson I learned from a young age from my father and my grandfather, both committed naturalists in their own right, and also from my much-missed grandmother, who cared so much for the natural world. In times of loss, it is a comfort to honor those we miss through the work we do. And I take great comfort then from the progress we’re making to end the illegal wildlife trade.” Watch the address on YouTube.

On Wednesday, Kate visited a hospital maternity ward in Surrey, England. Sophie, Countess of Wessex (wife of Prince Edward, the queen’s youngest son), traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where she sought to call attention to the impact of sexual and gender-based violence in conflict and anti-poaching initiatives. On this side of the Atlantic, Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, took a ride on the Staten Island Ferry during a visit to the Big Apple.

Online again: Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, resumed her Spotify podcast. (The latest episode looks at “conversations with Margaret Cho and Lisa Ling about the archetypes that try to limit and define Asian women.”)

Precious pooches: Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York (ex-wife of Prince Andrew, the scandal-clouded second son of the late queen), said at a literary festival Wednesday that it was a “big honour” to care for two of the queen’s dogs and called the corgis “national treasures.” (Quiet clap for Fergie: Her Instagram post about her late mother-in-law was personal but not uncomfortably syrupy.)

The Post’s Jennifer Hassan analyzes how Netflix’s “The Crown” depicted Queen Elizabeth II through her decades-long reign. (Video: Allie Caren/The Washington Post)

👑 alert! With season five of “The Crown” due to return Nov. 9 — some of us really aren’t going to sleep much after midnight on Election Day — many fans are rewatching the Netflix drama to be primed for the next set of stories. (Remember: It’s a scripted series, “broadly based on historical events,” not a documentary.) The Post’s Retropolis feature, which looks back at historical events, has done several articles pivoting off the show. Of potential interest to royal watchers: episodes centering on the late queen and a fact-check of whether a KGB spy really worked at Buckingham Palace.

Prince Harry co-authored a Post op-ed last October, warning against corporate oil drilling in the Okavango watershed in southern Africa. “The Okavango is a force of life, providing the main source of water for nearly 1 million Indigenous and local people and some of the planet’s most majestic wildlife,” argued Harry and Namibian environmental activist Reinhold Mangundu. “Drilling is an outdated gamble that reaps disastrous consequences for many, and incredible riches for a powerful few. It represents a continued investment in fossil fuels instead of renewable energies.”

Some European monarchies are downsizing — and some royals aren’t taking it well. Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II recently revoked the royal titles of prince and princess from four of her grandchildren. “Her demoted grandchildren and their father made their disappointment clear,” writes London-based reporter Ellen Francis. Interestingly, the 82-year-old queen (the continent’s longest-reigning monarch since the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II) acknowledged the spat and apologized — but she’s not changing course. Handy context: The Danish grandchildren aren’t suddenly (gasp!) commoners; they’ll still have titles such as count and countess. A few years ago, Sweden’s king also stripped titles from some of his grandchildren. Such changes are meant to signal that taxpayers won’t be supporting scads of royals who aren’t close to the throne.

We continue to be charmed by this video clip from ITV royal reporter Chris Ship. In early February, on the eve of marking 70 years on the throne, Elizabeth II was shown items given to Queen Victoria in honor of her 60th anniversary on the throne. Then, something — err, someone — else caught the queen’s interest.

Follow @washingtonpost and @postopinions on Instagram for more news coverage.

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