King Charles hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace two days before the beginning of COP27. The monarch invited more than 200 people – including decision-makers, NGOs and business leaders – to facilitate discussions focused on sustainable growth, progress made since COP26 and the collective efforts to tackle climate change. Among them was also Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Other notable attendees included COP President Alok Sharma MP, John Kerry, the US Special Presidential Envoy for the Climate, and fashion designer Stella McCartney.
Upon greeting the new sovereign, Ms McCartney exchanged a brief joke with Charles.
After kissing him on the cheeks and shaking hands with Mr Sunak, the fashion designer curtsied, while saying: “Your Majesty, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do anymore. I think I’m supposed to do this now!”
The reception was held a few days after Mr Sunak announced he would attend the summit in person, despite No10 previously saying he would skip it as he was focused on the domestic agenda.
On Wednesday morning, the Prime Minister said on his official Twitter account “there is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change” and there is “no energy security without investing in renewables”, before explaining that was the reason why he would head to Sharm-El-Sheik.
A few hours later, Buckingham Palace issued a statement confirming previous reports the King, despite his long-standing commitment to the environment, would not be at COP27.
The message read: “As has been made clear previously, in unanimous agreement with Government His Majesty will not be attending COP27.
“His focus is on the pre-COP reception at Buckingham Palace this Friday, where senior business leaders, experts and NGOs can discuss the important work of the summit and explore ways in which public-private partnership can help tackle climate change.
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Sources reported by the Daily Express Royal Correspondent, Richard Palmer, denied claims the monarch was upset about missing the summit.
The sovereign, they added, doesn’t think it is appropriate for him to go to the summit, given his new role as Britain’s head of state.
While King Charles can convene meetings of politicians, experts and others to discuss pressing issues including climate change as Britain’s sovereign, he can no longer speak out as he did when he was Prince of Wales, the sources also suggested.
King Charles was major presence during last year’s COP26, which took place in Glasgow.
Attending it as the Prince of Wales, the royal took part in several events – including the summit’s opening ceremony, during which he delivered a speech in which he called for a “military-style campaign to marshal the strength of the global private sector” to support the fight against climate change.
Charles also led other members of the Royal Family during the evening reception at COP26, as his mother the late Queen was not able to travel to Glasgow in person due to her episodic mobility issues.
Nevertheless, the then-sovereign delivered a pre-recorded speech in which she expressed her hope for the conference to “be one of those rare occasions where everyone will have the chance to rise above the politics of the moment, and achieve true statesmanship”.
In her momentous speech, Elizabeth II also paid tribute to Prince Philip’s role in conservation, saying: “It is a source of great pride to me that the leading role my husband played in encouraging people to protect our fragile planet, lives on through the work of our eldest son Charles and his eldest son William. I could not be more proud of them.”