Words by Abi Scaife
King Charles III has made headlines by pledging to donate wind farm earnings back into the community as well as his charity work, of which there's a lot.
But what a lot of people don’t know is that the environment has always been at the forefront of His Majesty’s mind - even when climate change was widely dismissed by all but the most dedicated scientists.
So we thought we would take a look back at King Charles’ history with climate action, and the initiatives he has supported over the course of his life - because maybe, just maybe, his reign could mean great things for the UK’s climate footprint.
Going back in time
King Charles first started talking publicly about the climate crisis when he was 21, as the new chairman of the Welsh Countryside Committee. This was back in 1970 and, as Charles put it, most people thought his ideas were ‘dotty’.
But in this particularly poignant quote, we can see just how forward-thinking he was. “When you think that each person produces roughly 2lb of rubbish per day and there are 55 million of us on this island using non-returnable bottles and indestructible plastic containers, it is not difficult to imagine the mountains of refuse that we shall have to deal with somehow," he said at the time.
From there, Charles only became more vocal about his climate concerns. With the power he had, then as Prince of Wales, he made changes where he could in his own life, and in the lives of others. For example, he has made various Crown-owned properties powered by solar panels, uses electric cars on his estates, and even has a biomass boiler installed at Birkhall.
Back in the 1980s, Charles became interested in organic gardening, leading him to launch his own organic brand, Duchy Originals, which sells more than 200 sustainably produced products - from food, to garden furniture. Even better, all the profits from Duchy Originals go towards supporting the Prince’s Charities - Charles’ collection of charities he sponsors.
Charles has won plenty of awards for his efforts in environmental activism - from the t10thnth annual Global Environmental Citizen Award from the Harvard Medical School’s Center for Health and the Global Environment in 2007, to the Teddy Roosevelt International Conservation Award by the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF) and so many more!
In 2007, Charles decided to launch the Prince’s May Day Network, designed to encourage businesses to be more environmentally conscious and take action on climate change. Over 3,500 businesses have signed up to the network since it launched in 2007, and make regular reports on best practices for reducing your carbon footprint and more.
Plus, in 2008 Charles spoke to the EU, asking them to be leaders in the battle against climate change - something that was received incredibly well at the time. It was also around this time Charles stopped serving foie gras in any of his properties. Foie gras is a type of dish made by fattening the liver of a duck or a goose to around ten times its natural size, which has led to many concerns around the world about force-feeding and treating the animals poorly throughout their lifetime.
In the 2010s Charles spoke at COP21, and even collaborated with a sustainable UK-based fashion brand. Alongside British designers Vin and Omi, Charles donated the nettles from his Highgrove estate, which were used to create a sustainable clothing and jewellery line - which is pretty cool.
No slowing down
In the last few years Charles has showed no signs of slowing down, despite the tragedy of the pandemic, his father and mother passing away, and taking on new responsibilities as the King of England.
In 2020, he launched the Sustainable Markets Initiative to encourage sustainability. This, in turn, launched a five-year plan that revolved around creating sustainable economic growth to help the planet, as well as the UK’s economy in the wake of the pandemic. Plus, he set up RE:TV, a streaming platform dedicated to videos about the environment and sustainability, which eventually went on to partner with Amazon Prime.
In 2021, Charles launched the Food for the Future initiative, in order to teach young children about sustainable food practices and how food waste is negatively impacting the environment. This is also something he has chosen to adopt himself, as he revealed that two days a week he eats no meat nor fish and one day a week he eats no dairy products.
Throughout his life, Charles has clearly been a huge advocate for climate action - as is obvious by his calls for change throughout his career, as well as the changes he has made in his personal life.
Now, as we face his official coronation in 2023, this is hugely encouraging for climate activists and the general public alike, as we can see the environment is a big priority for him. We can’t wait to see what change he enacts going forward.