King Charles III, a long-term green campaigner, will make sustainability a key point in his annual festive address to the nation and Commonwealth on Christmas Day in what will be a departure from last year.
Charles, like Queen Elizabeth, writes his Christmas broadcasts, and last year he followed his mother’s well-established template, a personal reflection on the year, touching on current issues and with a Christian framework.
But this year, sustainability was considered a “key point” in how the Christmas message was staged, breaking with tradition in that the monarch’s festive address is generally apolitical to avoid dragging the Royal Family into controversy.
However, the content of his speech – Charles’ first since his Coronation – would also address “broader themes”, a royal aide told the Mail.
Charles recently delivered a speech at the Cop28 UN Climate Change Conference, in which he said trillions of dollars will be needed to drive the transformation across all facets of society required to tackle the climate crisis and that public finance alone “will never be sufficient”.
“In 2050 our grandchildren won’t be asking what we said, they will be living with the consequences of what we did or did not do,” he said.
“In your hands is an unmissable opportunity to keep our common hope alive,” he added. “I can only urge you to meet it with ambition, imagination, and a true sense of the emergency we face.”
To drive home this message, his living Christmas tree will be replanted after the broadcast.
From its branches hang natural and sustainable decorations, including hand-turned wood, dried oranges, glass baubles, pine cones and paper.
Charles’ Christmas message, due to be broadcast at 3pm on Monday, is again delivered standing up, and this year’s location is the Buckingham Palace room that leads onto the royal residence’s iconic balcony.
Members of the Royal Family have gathered in the Centre Room ahead of historic balcony appearances like after Charles’ coronation or Trooping the Colour celebrations.
In the background can be seen the Queen Victoria Memorial which was planned by King Edward VII as a tribute to his mother and her reign but, after his death in 1910, was opened a year later by his son King George V.
Resting on a table to the King’s right is a potpourri bowl with gilt metal cover believed to have been acquired by George IV. The circular tazza-shaped bowl of Japanese lacquered wood with gilt bronze mounts is held by the Royal Collection Trust.
Activist group Friends Of The Earth welcomed the ecological focus of this year’s Christmas broadcast. The charity’s head of policy, Mike Childs, said: “The King has been a long-term champion of the environment, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he used his speech to help raise awareness of the urgent need to live more sustainably.
“With the world facing both a nature and climate crisis, we need everyone – especially our politicians – to do more to help safeguard our planet.”
Praising Charles’ choice of backdrop, he added: “If you have a living tree with roots in a pot you can keep it outside and use it again next Christmas where it will keep absorbing carbon from the atmosphere, which improves its environmental impact.”