The King’s kiss for Stella McCartney: Charles does away with formalities as he embraces fashion designer who jokes she ‘doesn’t know what to do anymore’ at Cop27 Buckingham Palace reception
- King Charles III enjoyed a hilarious moment with Stella McCartney and the Prime Minister over curtseying
- He is not flying to north Africa but decided to host a reception for 200 people at Buckingham Palace
- VIPs included John Kerry, Sir Keir Starmer, Sir Pascal Soriot, Mike Bloomberg and Dame Ellen MacArthur
- Rishi Sunak will attend Cop27 climate summit in Egypt after Boris Johnson revealed he will be going to event
- The PM had initially indicated he would not travel to north Africa next week due to pressing domestic issues
King Charles III enjoyed a hilarious moment with Stella McCartney and the Prime Minister today as he hosted a Buckingham Palace reception for business figures ahead of the Cop27 summit.
The monarch welcomed more than 200 guests to his royal residence including Rishi Sunak, who this week reversed his decision to skip the UN climate change meeting in Egypt next week, bowing to pressure from activists, his own environment adviser and rival Boris Johnson.
As guests arrived, Charles kissed Stella McCartney before meeting the Prime Minister. The fashion designer laughed and told the King: ‘Your Majesty, I don’t know what to do anymore. I think I’m supposed to do this now,’ before curtseying for the monarch, who laughed uproariously – as did the Prime Minister.
The Queen would only be seen kissing members of her family or close friends at events. But Charles is different, greeting acquaintances and other royals such as Queen Letizia of Spain with a kiss and even allowing a fellow mourner to give him a peck on the cheek outside the palace after the death of his mother in September.
Mr Sunak, who was also seen talking to Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey, was among a small group of VIPs who met the King in a separate room before the main reception was held in the ballroom and the Prime Minister gave a short address to guests, such as US special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry.
In the state dining room were leading figures including Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, AstraZeneca chief executive Sir Pascal Soriot, former New York Mayor and business news mogul Mike Bloomberg and yachtswoman Dame Ellen MacArthur whose foundation is working to tackle climate change.
In his speech, Mr Sunak praised the King’s commitment to climate change and quoted his late mother.
He said: ‘I hope you will join me in thanking the King for hosting us and for his longstanding and far-sighted leadership. His Majesty has been working on practical solutions for climate change and biodiversity for 50 years – long before Cop1 let alone Cop27.
‘If we do not act today, we will risk leaving an ever more desperate inheritance to our children tomorrow.
‘As her late majesty said in her address to Cop26, “It is the hope of many that the legacy of this summit – written in history books yet to be printed – will describe you as the leaders who did not pass up the opportunity”.’
Despite No 10’s U-turn, the King is still not planning to attend the Egyptian summit.
Downing Street acknowledged on Thursday that the King might have been able to join delegates if the Prime Minister had been in office earlier in the year.
Charles and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak laugh while speaking to fashion designer Stella McCartney, watched by US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry
The King kissed Stella McCartney before meeting the Prime Minister. The fashion designer laughed and told the King: ‘I don’t know what to do anymore. I think I’m supposed to do this now’, before curtseying for the monarch who laughed, as did Rishi Sunak (right)
King Charles III speaks with, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Cop26 president Alok Sharma (left) and fashion designer Stella McCartney, at Buckingham Palace
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Queen Letizia of Spain and the then Prince of Wales exchanged a kiss on the cheek as they arrived at the engagement in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, in April
The then Prince of Wales had put on a friendly display when he met Queen Letizia of Spain in April this year for a rare joint public engagement in County Durham
The King has decided not to go to Egypt despite a U-turn by the PM
King Charles III arrives for a reception for world leaders, business figures, environmentalists and NGOs at Buckingham Palace
His Majesty heard from guests about practical measures to combat climate change and their plans for Cop27 and beyond
Rishi and Stella reminisce about meeting on the school run to King Charles, with PM praising his fashion designer friend who he said looked ‘glamorous’ at assembly
Rishi Sunak and Stella McCartney explained to the King that they knew each other from picking up their children.
After Charles greeted them at his pre-Cop27 event at Buckingham Palace, Rishi said: ‘So we’re usually seeing each other at kids things’ and
Stella McCartney chipped in and said: ‘Yes our children used to go to the same school’.
The monarch said: ‘Oh really’ before the PM said that fashion designer Ms McCartney was ‘on the more glamorous end of the assemblies in the morning’.
Moving the conversation on Charles thanked them for coming, saying he was ‘particularly grateful to the Prime Minister’. Stella said she hoped the King would help ‘save the world’.
Rishi told Charles: ‘This is extraordinary. 250 people. This is what you’ve done.’ The King then asks after someone and the PM says, pointing: ‘Yes she’s here. She’s just over there’.
When Liz Truss was premier, a ‘unanimous agreement’ was reached that the King should not attend after advice was sought by his office from the Government.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said on Thursday it was now not ‘logistically feasible’ for the King to join the gathering at Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.
She said about Mr Sunak, who only took office last week following the dramatic resignation of Ms Truss: ‘We do recognise that had the Prime Minister been in post earlier, the situation might have been different but it is not logistically feasible at this late stage.’
A Buckingham Palace spokesman reiterated there had been ‘unanimous agreement’ with the Government that the King would not travel to the summit.
Cop26 president Alok Sharma, who will be handing over presidency to Egypt at the summit, was also invited to the palace reception.
Mr Sunak’s U-turn came as his predecessor Boris Johnson confirmed he would attend, having made the environment a key plank of his premiership. But they will not be sharing a plane.
On Twitter, Mr Sunak said: ‘There is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change. There is no energy security without investing in renewables.
‘That is why I will attend Cop27 next week: to deliver on Glasgow’s legacy of building a secure and sustainable future.’
The PM previously said he had to focus on Britain’s ‘depressing domestic challenges’ but faced growing pressure to join leaders at next week’s conference.
Mr Sunak changed his mind on attending the Sharm El-Sheikh gathering after making ‘good progress’ on those domestic matters, including the Autumn Statement later this month, according to Downing Street.
‘He has always recognised the importance of this summit and indeed on tacking climate change more generally,’ said the PM’s official spokesman.
‘We wanted to make sure we were making good progress on the Government’s domestic agenda and the Autumn Statement in particular.
King Charles was pictured planting a lime tree near the Tea House in the Buckingham Palace garden today
After hosting a reception for world leaders, business figures, environmentalists and NGOs, at Buckingham Palace, the King planted a tree in the palace gardens
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said there was ‘unanimous agreement’ that King Charles will still not attend Cop27, despite Mr Sunak’s decision to go
During their last joint public engagement in April this year, Queen Letizia of Spain and the then Prince of Wales appeared entranced as they were offered a tour of the gallery at Auckland Castle in County Durham
‘Following discussions with the Chancellor [Jeremy Hunt] this week he has now agreed to attend. The PM feels there is sufficient space to make this trip.’
The spokesman said Mr Sunak was hoping to make progress on the commitment to halt deforestation by 2030 and to agree new partnerships on clean and renewable energy.
Rishi Sunak praised King’s 50-year commitment to climate change and quotes the Queen in speech to VIPs
In his speech at Buckingham Palace today, the Prime Minister praised the King’s commitment to climate change and quoted his mother the Queen.
He said: ‘I hope you will join me in thanking the King for hosting us and for his longstanding and far-sighted leadership.
‘His Majesty has been working on practical solutions for climate change and biodiversity for 50 years – long before COP1 let alone COP27.
‘If we do not act today, we will risk leaving an ever more desperate inheritance to our children tomorrow.
‘As her late majesty said in her address to COP26, “It is the hope of many that the legacy of this summit – written in history books yet to be printed – will describe you as the leaders who did not pass up the opportunity”.’
The PM’s predecessor, Liz Truss, is claimed to have objected to His Majesty attending the Egypt summit during an audience at Buckingham Palace last month.
A Palace spokesperson said: ‘As has been made clear previously, in unanimous agreement with Government His Majesty will not be attending Cop27.
‘His focus is on the pre-Cop reception at Buckingham Palace, where senior business leaders, experts and NGOs can discuss the important work of the summit and explore ways in which public-private partnership can help tackle climate change.
‘His Majesty looks forward to hosting the PM and other global leaders at the event.’
Labour’s shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband said: ‘The PM has been shamed into going to Cop27 by the torrent of disbelief that he would fail to turn up.
‘He is going to avoid embarrassment, not to provide leadership.’
Labour had called Mr Sunak’s decision to skip Cop27 a ‘massive failure of leadership’.
Britain hosted Cop26 in Glasgow last year and holds its presidency until the start of the next summit.
The Prime Minister’s own climate adviser Mr Sharma had said he was ‘disappointed’ that Mr Sunak was not planning to attend.
But he praised the PM’s U-turn.
The outgoing Cop26 president tweeted: ‘Delighted that @RishiSunak is attending Cop27 – completely agree with his comment that ”there is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change”.’
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said Mr Sunak had been ‘dragged kicking and screaming into doing the right thing’ after he committed to attend the Cop27 climate summit. ‘Embarrassing,’ she added.
The decision of Mr Johnson – Mr Sunak’s arch-rival and former Downing Street neighbour – to attend made it even harder for the PM to resist going.
Mr Johnson told Sky News he would be attending, adding: ‘I was invited by the Egyptians so I’m very happy to go.’
Asked if his successor in No 10 should go too, he said Mr Sunak has a ‘massive amount to do’ with the Government’s domestic agenda, adding: ‘I happen to have a particular interest.’
Mr Johnson argued it has become ‘unfashionable’ to talk about Cop26.
‘I want to talk a little bit about how I see things and how we see things in the UK,’ Mr Johnson added.
Initially Downing Street said Mr Sunak would not be attending because he must focus on the ‘depressing domestic challenges’, as he works on the autumn Budget.
King Charles III (far left) arrives with (left to right) Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Alok Sharma (centre) who presided over Cop26 and Brian Moynihan, chairman and chief executive of Bank of America and co-chairman of the Sustainable Markets Initiative
Britain’s King Charles III (L) speaks with Brian Moynihan (2nd L), chairman and CEO of Bank of America and co-chairman of the Sustainable Markets Initiative, John Kerry (C), US special presidential envoy for climate and Cop26 president Alok Sharma
The change came after Mr Sunak’s predecessor Boris Johnson confirmed he would attend, having made the environment a key plank of his premiership
Writing on Twitter, Mr Sunak said: ‘There is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change. There is no energy security without investing in renewables’
Buckingham Palace has confirmed that King Charles will still stay away from the event, having been told by Mr Sunak’s predecessor Liz Truss to stay away
But on Monday he changed tack, with No 10 saying that the decision was now ‘under review’ as ‘substantial progress’ was being made on his economic plans.
Rachel Kennerley, international climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: ‘It would have been a remarkable own goal for the Prime Minister to miss this year’s UN climate talks as the UK’s own presidency draws to a close, so it’s good that he’s seen sense and decided to attend.
‘But simply showing up won’t be enough. The UK government has a lot of work to do to rebuild its climate reputation after a year of rowing back on commitments made in Glasgow.
‘The PM quashed plans to revive fracking which was a good start to his tenure. If the UK expects to be taken seriously at the negotiating table, then the government must scrap plans for new oil and gas in the North Sea and say no to the UK’s first deep coal mine in 30 years.’