Royal Roundup: Prince Charles Warns of Human Extinction

Prince Charles delivering WWF keynote speech. (Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA)

Referring to himself as “an endangered species,” Prince Charles warned this week that the entire human race is facing extinction.

Delivering his first speech as the new president of the World Wildlife Federation UK, Charles urged immediate action to end destruction of the environment.

“We are, of course, witnessing what some people call the ‘sixth great extinction event’ – the continued erosion of much of the Earth’s vital biodiversity caused by a whole host of pressures, from the rising demand for land to the corrosive effects of all kinds of pollution,” he said. “Without the biodiversity that is so threatened, we won’t be able to survive ourselves.”

The future King, who has long been passionate about environmental issues, called for a “sustainability revolution” that would transform the way humans live on the planet.

“History will not judge us by how much economic growth we achieve in the immediate years ahead, nor by how much we expand material consumption, but by the legacy for our grandchildren and their grandchildren,” he said.

Charles’ father, the Duke of Edinburgh, was also head of the UK branch of the WWF, before he became its international chief.  Charles quipped that, being “a rare species” himself, he’s always felt a close connection to the 50-year-old advocacy group.

But he also suggested that because of his outspokenness, the WWF “may regret” his appointment as leader of the organization. (via The Telegraph)

In other news in this all-Prince Charles edition of the Royal Roundup:

The Financial Times, in an editorial, applauded Charles’s warning about biodiversity. “Prince Charles is in good company when speaking about the demise of the human race,” the paper wrote. “Stephen Hawking, the theoretical physicist, Lord Rees, the Astronomer Royal, and Professor Frank Fenner, the scientist who helped eradicate smallpox, have all warned of the imminent danger of extinction.”

On the other hand, in a Telegraph blog post titled “Gloomy old Prince Charles is wrong: the human race has never been so healthy,” journalist Harry Mount wrote that Charles “might be right about us bashing up the environment, but he’s dead wrong about extinction. One of the reasons why the environment is getting a little bashed up is entirely because the human race is in such all-powerful shape.”

Prince Charles and Camilla at a mobile fish shop in Kilkeel harbor. (Paul Faith/PA)

• After his WWF speech, Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, went to Northern Ireland. Yesterday, they visited the seaside city of Kilkeel, where they discussed the fishing industry and its problems.

Their trip included a tour of the harbor on a fishing boat, whose captain, Howard Forsythe, had met Charles on a previous high seas encounter. In the 1970s, Forsythe was on a boat which had been stopped in a random search by a Royal Navy vessel — commanded by the young Prince.

“He laughed when I told him about it,” Forsythe said later. “He said I was lucky he hadn’t run me over.”

Charles, who holds the rank of admiral, also took over the wheel, and Forsythe joked that he did a fine job: “The Prince steered it up the harbor no bother at all.” (via The Press Association)

• Before they left for Ireland, Charles and Camilla also opened an exhibition of designer clothes made from wool. Wool is a fabric near and dear to Charles’ heart because it’s more eco-friendly than fabrics made from non-renewable materials. “Wool leaves a lighter footprint on the planet compared to man-made products,” he told The Press Association.

The exhibit is the centerpiece of Wool Week, which is, in turn, part of the Campaign for Wool, an initiative Charles himself founded last year, and many celebrities, including Vivienne Westwood and Colin Firth, showed up at the opening.

But wool isn’t just for designer fashion anymore, explained Charles, who said that he’s done lots of research into uses for the natural fabric. “I discovered a company that makes woolen coffins,” he said. “Coffins, ladies and gentlemen, to die for.”

And he sent the crowd out with the line: “I hope over the coming years, there will be ever more of you who will be proud to be just a little bit woolly.”

Charles’ one-liners led The Telegraph to wonder whether he “is now rebranding himself as an all-round entertainer,” and the paper received this denial from Clarence House: “We don’t have a new speech writer or comic hand on the tiller,” said a spokesman. “HRH has a good sense of humour and is a practised deliverer of comic lines, so it’s all his own work.”