Thursday 27th October 2016                 Change text size:

Charles at 65: Prince of Wales, future king and environmentalist

Prince Charles - Victoria Johnson via Flickr

The Prince of Wales turns 65 on Thursday, and despite reaching state pension age, shows no signs of weakening in his role as an advocate for environmental and social justice.

The prince has long been a prominent figure in green industry and regularly speaks out about the long-term impact of climate change and the need for us to take decisive action to reduce the effects. In the past, he has voiced his opinions, ranging from sustainable fisheries to sustainable development, and helped raise awareness.

Just this week, the prince commented that the British countryside is as important as the country’s cathedrals. In a special edition of Country Life magazine, he wrote that he feared for the future of the countryside and that “we erode it at our own peril”.

The prince has promoted environmental awareness since the early 1980s and developed an interest in organic farming. This led to the launch of his own organic and sustainable brand, Duchy Originals.

In 2007, his annual accounts contained details of his own carbon footprint, as well as targets for reducing his household’s emissions. He has since encouraged businesses to take action on climate change and reduce their own emissions.

The prince also has an interest in charity. Since founding the Prince’s Trust, which aims to support young people, in 1976, he has established many more charitable organisations that form the Prince’s Charities. These cover a wide range of activities, from education to responsible business and the natural environment.

The birth of his first grandchild this year perhaps marked a renewed focus on environmental issues and climate change for the prince. Speaking out about the long-term impact such issues can have, he said, “I don’t want to be confronted by my future grandchild and them say, ‘Why didn’t you do something?’”

He has also been vocal about the need to leave a hospitable environment for future generations, and criticised those who are sceptical about or denied manmade global warming. He accused deniers of doing their best to turn the Earth into a “dying patient”.

More recently, the prince said that the pension industry “has a duty” to be sustainable and tackle long-term issues rather than focusing on “quarterly capitalism”. In a video, he spoke about how the focus on short-term profits was making the pensions system “increasingly unfit for purpose” and creating a “perfect storm”.

To celebrate his birthday, the prince guest edited an issue of Country Life and used the magazine to draw attention to environmental and farming issues, indicating that he will continue to be an advocate for focusing on the long-term. 

Further reading:

Prince Charles: our countryside is as precious as our cathedrals

Prince Charles: pensions industry ‘has a duty’ to be sustainable

Climate sceptics attacked by Prince Charles and Ed Davey

Prince Charles speak out on leaving a hospitable future to his grandchild

The Prince of Wales: a royally green influence

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