The Queen has revealed she is “irritated” by the lack of progress on climate change as she criticised those who “talk but don’t do” ahead of the Cop26 summit in Glasgow.
After opening the Senedd in Cardiff on Thursday, Her Majesty, 95, was filmed having a private conversation with the Duchess of Cornwall and Elin Jones, the Senedd’s presiding officer, about the forthcoming climate talks, noting that it was still unsure which leaders would attend.
The Queen’s unguarded comments, which would normally remain private, were picked up on a livestream of the event.
The monarch, dressed head to toe in pink and again carrying a walking stick, was overheard speaking frankly about Cop26, which she will attend alongside other senior royals at the beginning of next month.
“I’ve been hearing all about Cop,” she said. “Still don’t know who is coming ... no idea.”
She went on: “We only know about people who are not coming … and it’s really irritating when they talk, but they don’t do.”
Ms Jones responded: “Exactly, and it’s a time for doing, and watching your grandson on television this morning saying there is no point going to space, we need to save the Earth.”
The Queen appeared delighted, adding: “I read about that!”
It came after the Duke of Cambridge revealed that it was space tourism that had ultimately made him realise how crucial it was to focus on our own planet before “trying to find the next place to go and live”.
On Thursday, Prince William also told BBC Newscast that Prince George had been litter picking at school but was “confused” and “annoyed” that the rubbish kept reappearing.
And he suggested that if we have the money to find a coronavirus vaccine and create a furlough scheme, then we can repair the planet.
The sovereign, who now rarely travels for official engagements, will attend a diplomatic reception at Cop26, joined by the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Prince Charles and Prince William are expected to address the conference as well as hold talks with key world leaders, with experts suggesting that the attendance of senior royals will boost the image of Britain taking climate talks seriously.
World leaders not currently expected in Scotland include Vladimir Putin, who has said he might not attend due to fears about coronavirus, although he insisted this week that he would “still participate in the work of the Cop26”.
Scott Morrison, the Australian prime minister, has reversed a decision to boycott the summit and on Friday morning confirmed he would attend.
In 2016, Chinese authorities censored footage of the Queen calling the country’s government “very rude” after she was caught on camera commiserating a police chief’s “bad luck” in having to deal with the Chinese during a state visit.
John Kerry, the US climate envoy, sounded a pessimistic tone on Thursday about the summit’s prospects. “It would be wonderful if everybody came and everybody hit the 1.5 degrees mark now,” he said. “That would be terrific. But some countries just don’t have the energy mix yet that allows them to do that.”
Prince George 'acutely aware' of importance of environment
Meanwhile, Prince William revealed that Prince George, who is in Year 4 at Thomas’s Battersea prep school, was “acutely aware” of the importance of the environment and had a “definite sense of realisation and understanding” about things like turning off light switches and taps.
He warned that it would be an “absolute disaster” if the young Prince was forced to follow in his footsteps and campaign about environmental issues in 30 years’ time, when it would be too late.
“So George at school recently has been doing litter picking, and I didn’t realise but talking to him the other day he was already showing that he was getting a bit confused and a bit sort of annoyed by the fact they went out litter picking one day and then the very next day they did the same route, same time and pretty much all the same litter they picked up back again,” he said.
“And I think that, for him, he was trying to understand how and where it all came from. He couldn’t understand, he’s like, ‘well, we cleaned this. Why has it not gone away?’”
The Duke also expressed concern about the rise in climate anxiety in young people, noting that they were growing up aware that their futures were threatened.
He said that five years ago, no one could have imagined that the world could orchestrate such a rapid response to a global pandemic, which he described as an “enormous” achievement.
“I’ve been completely blown away by the collaboration, the coordination, the science, the research and how quickly it’s been done as well, it’s truly phenomenal,” he said.
“So, I think younger generations will see that and use that to say, ‘well, if we can fix this, we can put the money, the furlough scheme and everything else, if we can do that we can also tackle environmental challenges’.”