The Annual Review 2021-22: Media Briefing

Published 29 June 2022

Opening Remarks by Sir Clive Alderton, Principal Private Secretary to The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall:

Thank you all very much indeed for joining this presentation on the work of The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall work from 2021 to 2022. I’m afraid we’re again benefitting from the marvels of modern technology and meeting online – this time not because of Covid, but because, as you can see, I’m here at Holyrood, where The Prince of Wales is supporting The Queen on her annual ‘Royal Week’. That theme of support for Her Majesty will recur during today’s presentation. But before we turn to the detail, let me just remind you all, as I always do, that today’s financial information is published voluntarily, in the interest of, and commitment to, transparency. The information we’re releasing, including taxes, relates to His Royal Highness’s private income from the Duchy of Cornwall. So, with the exception of a small number of costs including travel, this is not public or taxpayers' money. It is also worth perhaps just noting that we’re comparing numbers across three years if you look at the income and expenditure accounts. This is because, I think we are all conscious that Covid lockdowns created such distortions in activity for The Royal Family – as indeed for every family – that I thought it could only be helpful to provide a reminder of what a more ‘normal’ year looks like. 

As we emerged cautiously from national and global Covid restrictions, this last year was characterised by other unique circumstances. The first as you’ve just seen in the film was profound sadness for The Prince of Wales and all his Family, with the passing of his dear Father, The late Duke of Edinburgh. The nation joined the family in mourning of a much beloved national figure: as The Queen said herself, she had lost her “strength and stay”.

I remember only last year discussing with you the unprecedented upheaval of our lives through those lockdowns. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall continued the adaptions we explored during the first lockdown – with online engagements and even as perhaps you might remember, some online hospital openings! - to ensure they continued their service to people across Britain, the Commonwealth and wider world, in support of The Queen when we just couldn’t get out and do business as usual. Over the course of the year, these morphed back into ‘in person’ engagements as soon as it was safe to do so. Let’s face it, the monarchy is an institution which, by definition, embraces change and adapts. The realisation that Zoom and Teams enable us to connect simultaneously with multiple other leaders across the globe, without even leaving the office, something The Prince of Wales is determine to retain. His virtual round table meetings with the vast majority of Commonwealth leaders – drawing the Commonwealth family ever closer together and engaging on vital issues such as climate change – are just one example. They mean regular meetings like CHOGM, which I know many of you joined us at in Rwanda last week, normally held biennially, can now supplemented with more regular contact, creating more dynamic and ongoing conversations with Commonwealth leaders.

I mentioned just now that this Annual Review is framed by TRH support for The Queen.  As you will have seen, State and Ceremonial duties again increased, at Her Majesty’s request, as The Prince continued to lay The Queen’s wreath on Remembrance Day for example and took on further duties including the State Opening of Parliament.

To quote The Queen herself, The Duchess of Cornwall’s own loyal service also continued, as HRH became Patron of the British Forces Broadcasting Service and, taking the mantle from The late Duke of Edinburgh, delivered her first speech as Colonel-in-Chief of the Rifles. Her Royal Highness also continued her work to combat domestic abuse and violence against women. In this, I just want to say, she has partnered with many of your publications, and I want to recognise, here today, how incredibly powerful that partnership continues to be and to thank you. The Duchess’ online ‘Reading Room’ also goes from strength to strength, with an ever-growing number of Instagram followers. Of course, I need hardly remind you that The Queen - in a moving recognition of The Duchess’s work, service, and indeed her support for The Prince - expressed her view that The Duchess should, in the fullness of time, be known as Queen Consort.

Let me also highlight for a moment what were, for us, were some of the substantive outcomes of The Prince’s work during the year, which he dovetailed with increasing State and Ceremonial duties by frankly simply working even harder than ever. On TRH behalf, I want to pay a heartfelt tribute to all my colleagues in the Household who, through their own dedication, have somehow also managed to add all the extra work to their already very busy responsibilities. The period we’re discussing saw the UK host two major international conferences: the G7 and COP26. During this ‘year of British leadership’, The Prince’s 50 years of work to help find practical solutions to climate change, particularly working with the private sector, were recognised with unprecedented invitations to address both forums. So powerful was this international message that The Prince received a further unprecedented invitation from the Prime Minister of Italy to address the G20 in Rome. I just want to say, for me, this is a key example of the value a modern Heir to the Throne can bring before, in the fullness of time, the role changes fundamentally to becoming Sovereign and, as The Prince has put it himself rather delicately, “different rules apply”.  Until that time, The Prince continues to rally support and focus efforts to accelerate the transition to a sustainable future. As you will have seen, more than 500 global companies, worth some $66 trillion, yes trillion, have now seen the benefits of joining his Sustainable Markets Initiative to transform our economy and our future by focusing on Nature, People and Planet. It’s worth highlighting that The Prince also leads by example within the Household. Today we publish a 22% reduction in our pre-pandemic emissions and reconfirming that 100% of our electricity comes from renewable sources. I’m conscious that each year, many of you quiz me on the environmental impact of the official travel TRH are required to undertake, mainly at the request of Government, to fulfil their State obligations. And I reply every year that travel is, for better or worse, simply part of the Job Description. To help reconcile this challenge, The Prince has personally driven the move to the use of sustainable aviation fuel, which is now used for all official travel wherever possible.

So, with this in mind, the first Royal Tour post-Covid, and many of you were able to join us on it, to Egypt and Jordan, was led by issues close to both TRH hearts, from the challenges of climate change to the importance of interfaith dialogue and cohesion, youth employment and combatting domestic violence. The Prince also made a historic visit to Barbados to mark the decision for this already independent and self-governing country to become a Republic. The Prime Minister, Mia Motley, awarded the Prince of Wales the Order of Freedom of Barbados, saying he was a “man ahead of his time” particularly on climate change and championing of opportunity for young people through his Prince’s Trust and Prince’s Trust International. Some tried to suggest that a possible move to Republic status by some of the 14 overseas Realms - within the wider Commonwealth of 56 countries - might pose some sort of existential threat to the Commonwealth. Some have even suggested this was a source of alarm within the Palace. Not so, I wasn’t to say. As HRH said clearly in Barbados – and repeated at CHOGM only last week – there is complete recognition that these are technical matters for the countries concerned and, if they wish to replace their Governor General with a President, that will be met with calm and without rancour.

In looking forward, The Prince has continued to look back, encouraging us to learn the lessons of the past to make a better future. Earlier this year, The Prince commissioned seven portraits of some of Britain’s last remaining Holocaust survivors as a memorial to the six million lives lost; as a tribute to those particular and remarkable survivors; and as a living reminder to us all of the horrors of extremism and discrimination. The Prince and Duchess continued their work to support refugees, most recently in response to those fleeing from Afghanistan, and Ukrainians seeking refuge. Their Royal Highnesses attended a moving visit to the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in March to show their support and solidarity with Ukrainians, as well as visiting and learning about refugee welcome centres that offer language training and mentoring schemes among much other practical skills. The Prince has particularly welcomed the practical support of organisations of which he is Patron consistently provide to refugees as they integrate into British society.

You’ve probably heard as I have, The Prince often describes Britain as a ‘community of communities’ and his support for diversity continued prominently in his public work. This included welcoming to Clarence House winners, mentors, and pioneers from The Powerlist, which recognises the UK’s most influential people of African, African Caribbean and African American heritage in the United Kingdom. TRH also visited London’s Chinatown at Lunar New Year, to support communities who suffered Sinophobic attacks during the pandemic. The Prince was later instrumental in establishing scholarships for Caribbean students at UK Universities: and we’re really delighted that the first 37 have now been welcomed to the University of Wales Trinity St David. And this support continued within the Household itself, where our team benefits hugely from the nearly 11% of staff drawn from minority communities.

The incredibly busy and poignant year concluded with a real sense of celebration and joy, as we prepared for Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee. There will, of course, be much to say about this unique and wonderful moment in our nation’s history. But that, as they say, will be a story for another day and will have to wait until we meet again next year…

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