The Queen shares her feelings on young climate activists in annual Christmas speech


Dec. 26 2019, Updated 11:25 a.m. ET

Every Dec. 25, Queen Elizabeth II addresses the world with her Royal Christmas Message. In the annual speech, the Queen reflects on the past year's biggest news, anniversaries of historical events, and her expanding family. The speech always gets people talking — but this year, one of the reasons people are talking about the speech is because the Queen acknowledged the climate crisis.

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"The challenges many people face today may be different to those once faced by my generation, but I have been struck by how new generations have brought a similar sense of purpose to issues such as protecting our environment and our climate," the Queen said during her speech. 

The Queen was undoubtedly referring to the teenagers fighting to protect the planet, such as Greta Thunberg, the leader of the Fridays for Future movement. The Queen rarely publicly comments on political or polarizing issues, which the climate crisis has certainly become — so the fact that she commented on the way young activists are tackling the issue holds more weight than it may seem.

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Throughout the speech, the Queen mentioned the power of "small steps" and how important it is to put differences aside in order to move forwards. For example, right before making the remark about the current generation's fight to protect the environment, she reflected on the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

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"For the 75th anniversary of that decisive battle, in a true spirit of reconciliation, those who had formerly been sworn enemies came together in friendly commemorations either side of the Channel, putting past differences behind them," she said. "Such reconciliation seldom happens overnight. It takes patience and time to rebuild trust, and progress often comes through small steps ... By being willing to put past differences behind us and move forward together, we honor the freedom and democracy once won for us at so great a cost."

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The battle to protect the planet may feel like it's moving slowly. But the Queen's message that two sides coming together "seldom happens overnight" can serve as a reminder that it is going to take some time to significantly lower our greenhouse gas emissions and to get the global temperature on track to avoid it reaching catastrophic heights in our lifetime. Whatever your feelings are on the British monarchy, the Queen has been the sovereign for more than 65 years, and she has certainly gained some wisdom on how sustainable changes are made.

Not to mention, the royal family has slowly been getting more involved in environmental causes lately. In November, the Queen's longtime dressmaker revealed that the Queen will no longer wear fur; and in 2018, the Queen banned single-use plastic straws and bottles from royal estates after watching David Attenborough's Blue Planet II. Additionally, her son Charles, Prince of Wales has worked on a number of environmental causes over the past few decades; and her grandson Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex has recently started speaking up about environmental issues, including single-use plastic and how individual changes can add up.


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