Now what on earth will those staunch monarchists and climate denialists – John Howard and Tony Abbott – say about their new king, Charles III, and his very strongly held environmental views?
Charles may or may not be terribly bright (well smarter than his brother anyway) and rather pompous but that tends to go with the job. He has the requisite royal small talk – have you come far etc etc – but to the discomfort of UK PM, Rishi Sunak, he also has strong opinions on the environment at a time when Sunak is desperately trying to hold on to power by reversing his previous support for climate action and other environmental policies.
Sunak’s effort resembles the plea to the base (in both senses of the word base) by Howard, Abbott, Dutton and Morrison.
There was no hidden sub-text to Charles’ comments when he told the Cop28 conference: “I pray with all my heart that Cop28 will be another critical turning point towards genuine transformational action at a time when, already, as scientists have been warning for so long, we are seeing alarming tipping points being reached.”
“Despite all the attention, there is 30% more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now than there was back then, and almost 40% more methane.
“Some important progress has been made, but it worries me greatly that we remain so dreadfully far off track as the global stocktake report demonstrates so graphically,” he said.
So far neither Howard nor Abbott has said anything about the comments – at least as far as a cursory Google search suggests. It does come up with Abbott’s ‘climate change is crap’ statement and his explanation that he only ever said he believed in climate change because it was politically convenient.
Abbot may have given Charles’ old man a knighthood, but it is difficult to see Charles conferring one on him – given how Abbott has become embedded in groups associated with Tory weirdoes, anti-woke campaigners and climate denialists. He may not get a knighthood but at least he will feel at home.
Given the forcefulness of the King’s climate comments it seems more than likely that his sartorial choice to wear a Greek blue tie design, a piece from the Pagoni Maison des Cravates – an upmarket boutique in Kolonaki Athens – was also a subtle but considered comment on the Elgin Marbles.
The ongoing argument between Greece and the UK is about repatriating the marbles which Elgin hacked off the Parthenon; took to the British Museum which damaged them through poor cleaning work; and which the UK has been resolute in wanting to keep and Greece resolute in wanting them back.
The Greek Government has built a new museum for any repatriated Marbles and it is has the advantage of being in rather better shape than most of London’s cultural institutions after years of Tory neglect.
The Guardian (2/12) surmised Charles’ Elgin Marble comments may simply have been embracing his Greek ancestry (his father was born in Corfu) or thought it would complement his suit. But that seems a tad unlikely given a recent diplomatic spat over the Parthenon sculptures.
The Greek City Times had fewer doubts and their website reported: “Just a few days after the uproar caused in Great Britain and Greece by Rishi Sunak’s unfair treatment of Kyriakos Mitsotakis, King Charles III appeared to take a stand by choosing an obvious message, perhaps much stronger than any statement.”
“It could well be interpreted as a gesture of support for our country against the background of both the controversy for the Parthenon sculptures as well as after the indecent move of the British prime minister to cancel the planned meeting he had with Kyriakos Mitsotakis during the Greek prime minister’s visit to London,” it said.
Meanwhile, the Greek news portal Iefimerida agreed: “The king of Britain’s choice could be interpreted as a display of support for our country in the long-running dispute over the Parthenon sculptures.”
Down through the ages monarchs have used costume, ceremony, performative utterances to express their views. Today Scandinavian monarchs are far more plebeian but the British monarchy continue to use some of the performative style even if power lies with the government.
Not that the Sunak government – nor his predecessors have been doing very much with that power except handing multi-million pound contracts to chums, driving the NHS into the ground, reshuffling leaders and Cabinets and demonstrating endemic incompetence.