Prince Charles says he is trying to resist saying ‘I told you so’ after being decades ahead of public opinion on plastic pollution.
For 40 years he has highlighted the scourge of plastic but has been dismissed as ‘old-fashioned and out of touch’, said the heir to the throne.
Now it is one of the public’s biggest causes of concern and an issue on which the Mail has been campaigning for more than a decade.
Landmark: Charles and Camilla are photographed in the Garden Room at Clarence House
The portraits were taken for Charles’s 70th birthday interview in Vanity Fair, on sale tomorrow
The prince made his comments in an interview with Vanity Fair magazine to mark his 70th birthday on November 14.
‘One of my duties has been to find solutions to vast challenges we face over accelerating climate change … however, it seems to take forever to alert people to the scale of the challenge,’ said Charles.
‘Over 40 years ago, I remember making a speech about the problems of plastic and other waste but at that stage nobody was really interested and I was considered old-fashioned, out of touch and ‘anti- science’ for warning of such things.’
Charles, Camilla and the tapestry from 1835
Charles and Camilla were photographed for Vanity Fair by celebrity photographer Alexi Lubomirski, who took the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s engagement pictures, in the Garden Room at the Prince’s London residence, Clarence House.
The couple are pictured in front of a large silk and wool tapestry dating from 1835-44 entitled The Massacre of the Mamelukes, which depicts the seizure of Cairo at the start of the 19th century by Ottoman-Albanian commander Mahommed Ali.
The tapestry was shown at the Great Exhibition in 1851 and then presented to Queen Victoria by the French Emperor Napoleon III.
The Garden Room is said to be Charles’ favourite room in Clarence House. It is filled with his personal items gathered from his world travels.
Now the world has finally caught up. However, he added: ‘I don’t really see any value in saying, ‘I told you so’.
‘As a teenager, I remember feeling deeply about this appallingly excessive demolition job being done on every aspect of life.
‘In putting my head above the parapet on all these issues, and trying to remind people of their long-term, timeless relevance to our human experience – never mind trying to do something about them – I found myself in conflict with the conventional outlook which, as I discovered, is not exactly the most pleasant situation to find yourself.’
Charles also warned: ‘If we don’t engage with these issues, and many other related and critical problems that they inevitably compound, we will all be victims. Nobody escapes.’
He also spoke about the importance of traditional craftsmanship and rural values, saying: ‘Traditional crafts have always defined the character and beauty of civilization’s particular culture.
‘They underpin the rich tapestry of cultures that make up the world. So if you think them irrelevant and worth abandoning, then you abandon the richness of human civilisation.
‘You submit to the dehumanised, reductive approach of the lifeless machine… what a sorry world that would be.’
Charles has previously attended meetings of key plastic stakeholders and business leaders
Fish are forced to swim surrounded by plastic pollution such as plastic bags and wrappers
Prince Harry is said to admire his father’s persistence on green issues.
He told a film crew making a BBC documentary to mark Charles’s birthday: ‘The man never stops. Whether it’s dinner or tea or whatever and we sit there and speak to him, he gets so frustrated.
‘You can understand why, when he cares that much and he’s been banging the drum for this long.’
Some have accused Charles of meddling in public affairs but he defended his actions to film-maker John Bridcut.
‘If it’s meddling to worry about the inner cities, as I did 40 years ago, and what was happening, or not happening, there – the conditions in which people were living – if that’s meddling I’m very proud of it.’
Both Charles and Camilla discussed plastic pollution during the interview with Vanity Fair
The Duchess of Cornwall told the BBC her husband ‘really wants to save the world’, Radio Times reported.
Camilla admitted he could be ‘pretty impatient’ but said Charles was ‘driven by this passion inside him to really help’.
The documentary being screened on November 8 on BBC1 at 9pm also revealed Charles is a workaholic.
He works seven days a week from 9am, often until after midnight. Last year, he is said to have held 500 meetings behind the scenes on top of official engagements.
- See the full feature in the December issue of Vanity Fair, on sale from tomorrow.
What measures has the UK taken to slash the use of plastics?
Plastic bag charge: In October 2015 a 5p charge for all plastic bags was introduced. The fee has been credited with slashing Britain’s use of plastic bags.
Deposit return scheme: In March 2018 ministers announced plans to introduce a bottle deposit return scheme. Plastic, glass and metal containers will be recycled through the scheme. It is expected to come into force in 2020.
Ban on plastic straws, cotton buds and stirrers: In April 2018, Theresa May announced plans to ban the sale of the disposable plastic gadgets as part of her war on Britain’s throwaway culture
Latte levy: MPs have called for a 25p charge to be slapped on single use coffee cups – known as a latte levy. Ministers have not said whether they will introduce it yet, but it is believed to be under consideration.