Was it a good idea to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee by setting light to more than 2000 beacons across the UK and more of them in Commonwealth countries and UK Overseas Territories across the world? What message did this send out about the Royal Family’s attitude to fighting climate change?
In his Guide to the The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Beacons downloadable from the Queens Platinum Jubilee website, Pageantmaster Bruno Peek LVO OBE OPR makes no mention of climate change.
The Guide does recognise that some communities will wish to mark the Jubilee by lighting sustainable beacons, saying “This could take the form of using light installations, to light up buildings or monuments. This new form of beacon lighting reflects the modern era. It highlights the range of creative ways for communities and individuals to take part in ceremonially lighting a beacon to mark The Queen’s Jubilee.”
And it is true that the Principal Beacon at Buckingham Palace took the form of a lighting installation with The Queen’s Green Canopy ’Tree of Trees’ sculpture and projections onto the front of Buckingham Palace. This innovative new way of taking part in the beacon lighting reflected the Royal Family’s long history of “championing environmental causes”.
And, as the BBC reported in November 2021, the Queen urged world leaders at the COP26 climate summit to “achieve true statesmanship” and create a “safer, stabler future” for the planet. In a video message, she said many people hoped the “time for words has now moved to the time for action”.
But did the thousands of other beacons fuelled by gas or wood around the world really reflect the same message?
Or did they, rather, send out the message that sticking with traditional ways of behaviour is more important than recognising the world is in an emergency situation and that we all need to adapt our behaviour to save the planet?
Surely this was a lost opportunity to emphasise the importance of innovation, of not burning fossil fuels and wood, of saying that the world must change and that the Queen cares about it and leads the way in moving towards a new age.
And of course there is an annual occasion when the England is lit up with even more fires connected with a historical event: Bonfire night. Changing that behaviour is going to be even more difficult.
As for the Queen’s message to world leaders that time for words has now moved to the time for action, it hardly fits in with the Queen’s lawyers secretly lobbying Scottish ministers to change a draft law to exempt her private land from a major initiative to cut carbon emissions, as the Guardian reported in July 2021.
When are our leaders and celebrities really going to get the message that they too need to set a good example to us all and act, not just talk?