The moment when green-loving King Charles had to fawn over fossil fuels

King Charles III delivers the King's Speech on Tuesday.

Even if you’re a fan of British royalty, it’s hard not to chuckle when the monarch, dressed to the nines in fur and gold necklaces topped with a jewel-encrusted crown, gets in front of the U.K. Parliament and reads aloud a speech written for him by the governing party.

And this year it was even harder, because King Charles III, in his first time delivering the largely ceremonial King’s Speech as monarch, on Tuesday found himself reading words at odds with his environmentalist beliefs.

It came when he announced that his government will back expanded fossil fuel drilling in the North Sea, a measure introduced by the Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak that reversed previous policy.

“Legislation will be introduced to strengthen the United Kingdom’s energy security and reduce reliance on volatile international energy markets and hostile regimes,” the king read. “This bill will support future licensing of new oil and gas fields helping the country to transition to net zero by 2050 without adding undue burdens on households.”

That must have been a bit tough for Charles, who made his first major speech about the environment in 1970, when he was 21, and has become an increasingly vocal advocate for climate action. For instance, in a speech in France in September, he urged the world to “strive together to protect the world from our most existential challenge of all: that of global warming, climate change and the catastrophic destruction of nature.”

And, delivering the opening address at the COP26 United Nations climate change summit in Glasgow in 2021, he talked about global warming and biodiversity loss being an “existential threat to the extent that we have to put ourselves on what might be called a war-like footing,” adding later than “time has quite literally run out.”

He then went on to say that “The scale and scope of the threat we face call for a global systems level solution based on radically transforming our current fossil fuel-based economy to one that is genuinely renewable and sustainable.”

Mmmmm. Doesn’t sound much like the words Mr. Sunak put in his mouth.

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