Queen’s frustration completely out the blue – but could nudge along RSVPs for COP26

First the Prince of Wales, then the Duke of Cambridge and now most unexpectedly the monarch.

They’ve all shared their views on COP26 this week but to hear the Queen’s frustrations has come completely out of the blue.

Renowned for being possibly the most discrete woman in the world, she’s spent the past 70 years as Queen making sure we know as little as possible about her personal views, especially when it comes to anything potentially sensitive or political.

But in a very animated chat with the presiding officer of the Welsh parliament and the Duchess of Cornwall you can clearly hear the Queen describe how “irritating” it is that we still don’t know who is coming to COP.

And it’s the fact that she goes further by criticising those who “talk but don’t do” that makes this feel like a rare intervention from the monarch, and uncomfortable criticism of world leaders with COP only a couple of weeks away.

There are already differences of opinion on whether it was a private conversation, but it did take place in the very public space of the Senedd, at an event that was being filmed.

In recent years the Queen and her advisers have been careful around cameras – who can forget the time she was caught out at a garden party being critical of the Chinese delegation following the Chinese state visit.

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She is of course right in her latest comments, we are still waiting for final confirmation on who is coming, with Russia and China yet to do so. But why does it matter so much what the Queen thinks about it?

No, as head of state she won’t be sitting down and getting involved in the complex discussions around commitments to tackle the climate crisis. But she will be centre stage as the event gets under way in Glasgow on 1 November.

The Queen along with other members of the family will host a reception for world leaders and delegates. They will be the most high profile welcome party that any COP summit has ever been able to deliver, the Queen’s attendance a trump card for the government when it comes to getting pictures of the summit out to a wide audience around the world.

Be under no illusion her presence is designed to set a welcoming tone ahead of tense discussions ahead.

When I think back to the G7 summit in the summer and the likes of Mr Biden, Mr Trudeau, Mr Macron and Ms Merkel falling over themselves to get close to the Queen, it was an illustration that time with the Queen matters, she has a quiet influence that cannot be matched.

So maybe this nudge from Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, deliberate or not, could speed up a few of the RSVP’s when it comes to COP.

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