Whether members of the royal family are allowed to be political and how much is a matter of some debate. Traditionally, the Queen (or any head monarch) is supposed to remain politically neutral, and that’s usually meant that they don’t vote, run for office, or even speak about political issues. That hasn’t stopped the Queen, of course—from weighing in on everything from her support for the Black Lives Matter movement (opens in new tab) to her distaste for the fiery rhetoric that took place around Brexit. But in general, according to the website for the royal family, “The Queen has to remain strictly neutral with regard to political matters.”
Whether that rule applies to Prince Charles, the eventual-but-not-current King of England, remains unanswered. Charles has not been shy about taking up the flag for his pet causes—namely, his decades of outspoken activism around environmental protection and animal rights. He even met with President Biden during COP26 this month to discuss global cooperation around climate change. And it's arguable, seeing as how 98 percent of the world’s expert scientists on the issue are in agreement about anthropogenic climate change, that the environment shouldn’t really be considered a political issue at all. It’s more of a science issue.
But not everyone is thrilled that the future King of England has taken a stand. Nigel Farage, the one-time leader of the UK’s Independent Party and current incendiary public figure, recently criticized Charles for attending the climate conference. “They are discredited in every single way,” Farage said of the royal family in an appearance on GB News, according to Express UK. “But it's Prince Charles that worries me. Part of the constitutional settlement back in the 17th century was that the monarch did not interfere in politics.” Farage added, "He's on this green kick. He's on this, ‘We're all going to die’ stuff. Whether he's right or not, isn't the point. I think he's getting too deeply involved in politics. He needs to butt out.”
The constitutional settlement that Farage is referring to is the Act of Settlement, a 1701 Parliamentary document that assured the throne’s lineage remains Protestant while also limiting the powers of the monarchy and strengthening Parliament itself. In fact, the Act doesn’t specifically say that the royals can’t engage in politics or vote, only that their politics don’t matter when it comes to who runs the country (that would be Parliament, elected by the people). This suggests that, regardless of whether you agree with the larger point Farage is making, it seems that he neither understands fully what the Act contains nor grasps that if something was created in 1701 that would mean it’s from the 18th century, not the 17th. But whatever.
More interesting is the assertion that the environment is a political issue. Politicians in the U.S. have made this point too, though they are typically right-leaning politicians and if you look at which companies are donating the most to Republican campaigns, it makes sense why they would try to minimize the threat of environmental degradation (hint: It’s fossil fuel companies).
Prince Charles has been an outspoken supporter of environmental issues, from the importance of bees to the need for more gardening, to larger issues like pushing businesses to curb fossil fuels with his Terra Carta initiative
The point is, take talking points about the environment being somehow too political for the royals with a grain of salt—especially when the criticism comes from someone most noted for being a disgraced politician who loves to do racism.
Cady Drell is a writer, editor, researcher and pet enthusiast from Brooklyn.
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