Queen Elizabeth II, absent from the climate summit because of health concerns but not silent, urged world leaders on Monday to rise above their current political differences and show true statesmanship for the sake of the planet.
In a video message to the COP26 gathering in Glasgow, the 95-year-old monarch said that nations had overcome insurmountable problems and adversity throughout history by cooperating.
“It has sometimes been observed that what leaders do for their people today is government and politics,” she said. “But what they do for the people of tomorrow — that is statesmanship.”
The queen, wearing green and a butterfly brooch, had canceled her visit to Scotland on the advice of doctors because of what Buckingham Palace described as fatigue.
She said that the environment had been a subject “close to the heart” of her late husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who died in April. Calling for world leaders to find common ground, she said that “the time for words has now moved to the time for action.”
“Of course, the benefits of such actions will not be there to enjoy for all of us here today,” she said. “None of us will live forever. But we are doing this not for ourselves, but for our children and our children’s children, and those who will follow in their footsteps.”
The queen said that the environmental work of her late husband lived on through her eldest grandson, Prince William, and eldest son, Prince Charles, who, addressing world leaders on Monday at the summit, called for “a military-style campaign” to combat climate change.
Charles’s remarks built on comments on Sunday at the Group of 20 summit in Rome, where he described the conference as “the last-chance saloon” to avoid the most severe effects from climate change.
“The future of humanity and nature herself is at stake,” said Charles, the Prince of Wales and heir to the British throne.
“It is also impossible not to hear the despairing voices of young people who see you, ladies and gentlemen, as the stewards of the planet holding the viability of their future in your hands,” he told world leaders assembled in Rome. He reminded them that they had an “overwhelming responsibility to generations yet unborn.”
He said that adequately addressing climate change would require “trillions of dollars of investment every year to create the necessary new infrastructure and meet the vital 1.5 degree climate target that will save our forests and farms, our oceans and wildlife.”