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Why Our New King Was Right About Plastic Pollution

Britons are in mourning following the death of the Queen, but as the crown passes to her son, the new King Charles III, there is something for those who care about the environment to celebrate.

The last time Britain crowned a new monarch in 1953, the internet was still some way off in the future, but it will be reassuring to know that someone who has spent the last 70 years as heir apparent will undoubtedly approve whenever people buy sustainable products online.

As the Prince of Wales, Charles used his platform to speak out about many issues, including environmental topics, with single-use plastic being among the issues he often raised.

This was not a case of him jumping on a bandwagon to become more popular, but being ahead of his time. His first public statement on plastic came in a speech to the Countryside Steering Committee for Wales.

Stating that (in 1970) there were “55 million of us on this island using non-returnable bottles and indestructible plastic containers,” he exclaimed: “It is not difficult to imagine the mountains of refuse that we shall have to deal with somehow.”

Half a century later he said he was regarded as “completely mad” for expressing such views at the time. Yet clearly his words have been justified.

In 2018 he launched a competition alongside yachtswoman Dame Ellen MaCarthur to find a problem to the issue of plastic in the world’s oceans, warning of an “escalating ecological and human disaster”.

Now that he is King, Charles will not be publicly speaking out on such matters, having told a BBC documentary in 2018 that he is “not that stupid” as to think he could carry on expressing outspoken opinions once he took up the role of head of state.

Even so, his support for causes such as moving away from wasteful plastic use before it was fashionable will be celebrated by those who care about such issues and want to shop accordingly. He may not be ‘one of us’ in terms of his social background, but he certainly is when it comes to all things green.

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