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British RoyalsThe Duke of Edinburgh

Remembering Philip: the influential prince

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Pool / i-Images

The Royal Family, as a whole, supports many diverse causes and initiatives, but a common thread weaves through generations of royal initiatives: conservation, environmentalism, and a passion to protect the environment.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s influence in this area informed the work of his son, The Prince of Wales, and his grandsons, The Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex. Let’s take a look back at this influential prince and the work he did to spotlight conservation before its time, and how he paved the way for the Terra Carta, the Earthshot Prize, and other green programmes with royal backing.

The Royal Family website highlighted Prince Philip’s conservation work this week, noting that from 1961 onwards, it became a cornerstone of his work, best exemplified by his working relationship with the World Wildlife Fund.

In his lifetime, Prince Philip held the following positions within the WWF: President of the UK organisation, member of the International Board, International President and, ultimately, President Emeritus.

He took this role seriously. It wasn’t just a prestigious position to pad his royal resume. According to the Royal Family, Prince Philip was hands on, “chairing all meetings of the International Board and Executive Council and travelling widely, often to remote parts of the world, to promote the WWF’s projects and ethos, and using his influence to enlist the support of international Heads of State.”

He once described conservation as “the only issue that is truly international, inter-denominational, inter-ideological and inter-racial,” strong language that would be echoed by Prince Charles and Prince William in the future as they launched their own green initiatives.

Prince Charles has championed the environment and green living for decades, and was once written off for his campaigning. It’s only been in the last couple of decades that the world has shifted its thinking to be more in line with the future king’s.

In 2020, he launched the Terra Carta, the latest in a long line of environmental and sustainable initiatives, that will inspire businesses to put nature at the heart of their decisions. On its website, Prince Charles is quoted: “The ‘Terra Carta’ offers the basis of a recovery plan that puts Nature, People and Planet at the heart of global value creation – one that will harness the precious, irreplaceable power of Nature combined with the transformative innovation and resources of the private sector.”

Other green projects Prince Charles has supported include the Prince’s Countryside Fund, which supports Britain’s rural country sides to become more sustainable; the Campaign for Wool, which supports the wool industry and aims to shift focus to its use as a sustainable alternative to other materials; and the Sustainable Markets Initiative and Council (which works with the Terra Carta).

Prince William launched the ambitious Earthshot Prize in early 2020, a prize “designed to incentivise change and help repair our planet over the next ten years,” per its website.

Over the next decade, five ‘earthshots’ will be the focus of the Prize, in an attempt to improve the environment and life for generations to come by providing “new solutions that work on every level, have a positive effect on environmental change and improve living standards globally, particularly for communities who are most at risk from climate change.” Five prizes will be awarded per year in separate categories, decided upon by an international council of environmentalists and other prominent supporters.

William’s work also includes conservation efforts through United for Wildlife and the Tusk Trust.

About author

Jess is the Senior Royal Reporter and Editorial Assistant at Royal Central. Her interest in royalty started in her teenage years, coinciding with The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002 and grew from there. She specializes in the British Royal Family (with emphasis on the Cambridges) and the Danish Royal Family, and has provided royal commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the UK and Australia.