When Queen Elizabeth opened a conference on global warming in Berlin this week, it shone a spotlight on her own efforts to keep Britain green.
LONDON When Queen Elizabeth opened a conference on global warming in Berlin this week, it shone a spotlight on her own efforts to keep Britain green.
Despite appearances the huge royal palaces, lavish state banquets, and fleets of limousines environmentalists have praised "the Green Queen." Without fanfare, she has tried to turn her many royal households into models of energy efficiency, they say.
Already she has converted official cars to run on eco-friendly liquified petroleum gas fuel, switched to energy-saving light bulbs; and sunk a bore hole in Buckingham Palace garden as part of a low-energy heating system.
Now plans are being drawn up to build a hydro-electric plant on the River Thames which could generate enough electricity to power 900-year-old Windsor Castle without burning fossil fuels.
The 78-year-old monarch has always been notoriously thrifty, urging everyone in Buckingham Palace to turn out the lights on leaving a room. But officials say the energy-saving is not just motivated by money.
For royal spin doctors bidding to quell tabloid fever about the dysfunctional family's latest scandal, answering media queries about the queen's energy-saving plans comes as a welcome relief.
With a husband who headed the World Wildlife Fund for 35 years and an environmentally-conscious heir who has even admitted talking to his own vegetables, the family boasts solid green credentials.
"Some of the steps she has taken are extremely welcome," said a spokesman for the environmental pressure group Friends of the Earth, which welcomed her opening, however symbolic, of the global warming conference during a state visit to Germany.
"Her participation sends a strong message around the world particularly to the United States on the need for urgent action on global warming," Neil Verlander said.
But favorable headlines like, "Green Queen riding to the rescue of the planet" have been tempered by an acidic aside.
Prince Philip has championed wildlife conservation and heir-to-the-throne Charles is renowned as an organic farmer. But her second son Prince Andrew has been dubbed "Air Miles Andy" by the tabloids after reports that he has spent thousands of pounds of public money taking royal flights to play golf.