Royal sources say prince will not lecture US president but does not rule out addressing topic if they meet
Prince Charles will not lecture Donald Trump over his policy on climate change during the US presidents state visit to Britain later this year but has not ruled out addressing the topic altogether, according to royal sources.
Charles is being urged by some in Whitehall to challenge Trumps pledge to abandon the United Nations climate change deal signed in Paris in 2015, as part of harmonised efforts with the UK government to keep the carbon-cutting treaty on track.
But other UK officials are reported to be concerned that the likely meeting between the two men has become a risk factor for the visit. Another potentially controversial issue that could arise is religion, with Charless history of trying to promote better interfaith relations contrasting with Trumps actions to block travellers from Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.
An anonymous source, described as being close to Trump, claimed this weekend that the president would not put up with being lectured by the prince, according to the Sunday Times. The source warned against the two men meeting at all.
Under the normal choreography of a state visit, Charles is likely to welcome Trump where he is staying and he also invites most leaders to tea at Clarence House. Whether this will happen with Trump is yet to be decided. Barack Obama did not take tea on his last state visit, but Chinas president, Xi Jinping, did.
In parts of Whitehall Charles is now considered to be an extremely good asset in helping to maintain the integrity of the UN climate change treaty. He has been gently primed to assist diplomatic efforts on the issue, a senior Whitehall source said.
There is a sympathetic hearing between Clarence House and the government on climate change, with Charless views considered absolutely in line with government policy.
It has taken a lot of work by some of us to get him into that place, but what he is doing now is extremely helpful to us, the source said.
Last week, while Trump issued executive orders to revive oil pipeline projects and told car makers environmental regulation was out of control, Charles stepped up his own warnings on the environment. In a foreword to a Ladybird book on climate change published on Thursday and co-written by the prince, he described climate change as the wolf at the door and said action must be urgently scaled up and scaled up now.
Trump has appalled climate activists by threatening to cancel the Paris deal, which was in part brokered by Obama. In 2012 Trump described climate change as created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.
One royal aide said Charles would find a meeting [with Trump] on this subject [climate change] extremely useful but also made clear that while the agenda may or may not include climate change the mode of delivery would not be confrontational or hectoring.
If anything he is a helpful and honest broker on so many issues, said one source. They explained that Charles is usually in listening mode for the first 30 minutes of meetings with heads of state and only towards the end would consider offering thoughts about how problems that had been raised might be addressed.
Another source close to the prince said it would be difficult for him to be very direct with Trump.
He has to retain political neutrality, which is why he is always walking something of a tightrope on this subject, they said.
However, the same source added: It is fair to say he considers the world to be in great peril because of climate change and system degradation and resource depletion and he feels it is necessary for him to use his position to say something about that.
Some in Whitehall hope that far from causing Trump to erupt, as one anonymous US source suggested at the weekend, the US president may in fact be more engaged by Charles expressing views about the need for urgent action on climate change than a politician, in part because of Trumps admiration of wealth and British royalty.
Trump reportedly told Theresa May in November that his Scottish mother, Mary Macloed, was a big fan of the Queen.
Trump is the sort of person who loves the panoply surrounding wealth and royalty, said a senior government source. He loves reflecting the glory of the royal family. He is pressing for a state visit so he can go and have a meal in Buckingham Palace and he wants to play golf on the Queens golf course.
Environmental campaigners have also backed Charless ability to influence the new US president, in part by rallying other countries including Brazil, China and India to stand by the deal, thereby putting indirect pressure on Trump.
He has an international outreach and he is respected in the US, said Nick Molho, executive director of the Aldersgate Group, an alliance of businesses, politicians and campaign groups pushing for a sustainable economy. He has the benefit of being a step removed from everyday politics and I think that is important. It allows him to have more authority and to be a more engaging figure.
Charles told the 2015 UN climate change conference in Paris: The moment has arrived to take those long-awaited steps towards rescuing our planet and our fellow man from impending catastrophe.
He has also previously acknowledged the importance of US policy on climate change. In a 2015 speech he told an audience in Washington DC: Americas impact is profound and it is my, and many others, fervent hope that you will continue to inspire others both at home and on the global stage.
In recent years, Charles has focused his campaigning and convening efforts on the fight against climate change. He runs his own international sustainability unit from Clarence House, which describes itself as a trusted forum for for key actors from governments, the private sector and civil society.