King Charles will not attend climate summit on Truss advice

04 10 2022 | 07:36

King Charles will not attend the climate change conference COP27, which is due to be held in Egypt next month, Buckingham Palace has confirmed.

It was responding to a story in the Sunday Times which claimed Prime Minister Liz Truss had "ordered" the King not to attend.

The Palace said advice had been sought by the King and given by Ms Truss.

"With mutual friendship and respect there was agreement that the King would not attend," the Palace stated.

Before his accession to the throne last month, the King - then the Prince of Wales - had indicated he would attend the annual conference.

Royal correspondent Jonny Dymond said the BBC had put it to the Palace the King must be personally disappointed given his long decades of passionate environmental campaigning.

But the Palace responded that the idea the King was uncomfortable was not the case, and he was ever mindful of the sovereign's role to act on the government's advice.

Last November - as Prince Charles - the King travelled to Egypt with the then-government's blessing to urge the Egyptian administration on its efforts, meeting President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi during a planned visit.

In the past, the King has demonstrated his deep commitment to environmental issues and, as Prince of Wales, had a long history of campaigning to reduce the effects of climate change.

Only last year he made a speech at the COP26 opening ceremony in Glasgow, when the summit was hosted by the UK. The late Queen also gave a speech at the event, via video link.

Senior Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood said he hoped "common sense would prevail" and the King would be allowed to go Egypt.

He said in a tweet that King Charles was a "globally-respected voice" on the environment whose attendance would add "serious authority" to the British delegation.


At last year's COP26 conference, King Charles - or Prince Charles as he was then - was one of the star turns, delivering a passionate call for world leaders to adopt a "war-like footing" over climate change.

This year he'll have to keep his powder dry, after what's presented, on the surface at least, as a dispute-free agreement that he shouldn't go.

Although it's worth noting this is about not attending "in person", which might leave the door ajar for other virtual contributions.

There will inevitably be speculation that, below all the constitutional smoothing, this will have really disappointed the King. He has campaigned devotedly for decades, heart on sleeve, on such environmental issues.

And it could also raise the prospect of early tensions between a new King and a new PM.

But it's a case of different role, different rules, and the King has always known that as sovereign he would have to act within a different set of politically-neutral constraints.

Conservative Cabinet minister Simon Clarke said the decision for the King not to attend had been made "amicably, as far as I am aware".

"The suggestions this morning that he was ordered to stay away are simply not true," he told Times Radio. "It is the normal course of matters that this would be handled by the government rather than by the monarchy."

The Egyptian authorities say they hope to use their presidency of COP27 to urge the international community to act on pledges of support for developing countries to cope with the devastating impacts of climate change.

However, there has been criticism ahead of the summit. Human Rights Watch has said Egypt has severely curtailed the work of environmental groups. Officials in Cairo said the report was "misleading".

COP27, a United Nations event, is being held in the coastal city of Sharm el-Sheikh from 8 to 16 November.

Next week, King Charles will attend his first public engagements since the royal period of mourning came to an end, including a reception in Edinburgh for South Asian communities from across the UK and a visit to Dunfermline Abbey in Fife.

On Monday, Downing Street dismissed claims it "ordered" the King not to attend the summit.

A spokesperson said it was a matter for the Royal Family whether any members address the COP27 climate conference.

The prime minister's official spokesman would not comment on conversations between the prime minister and the King, but said the UK had a "proud record" on tackling climate change.

Buckingham Palace previously said the King sought advice on attending the conference from Ms Truss with "mutual friendship and respect".