US must act over climate says Queen
The Queen has made a rare intervention in world politics to warn Tony Blair of her grave concerns over the White House's stance on global warming.
She is understood to have asked Downing Street to lobby the US after observing the alarming impact of Britain's changing weather on her estates at Balmoral in Scotland and Sandringham in Norfolk. The revelation gives an unusual glimpse into the mind of the monarch, who normally strives to stay above politics.
Further evidence of the Queen's views on global warming will be seen this week when she opens one of the most high-profile conferences ever staged in Europe on the issue. She is keen for this to be interpreted as a symbolic and political statement.
The Berlin summit will come a day after the US presidential elections and its outcome will dictate the tone of key climate talks. George Bush's administration has remained hostile to international attempts to reduce emissions of climate change gases.
'There has been dialogue between Downing Street and Buckingham Palace on all issues relating to climate change including the US position and the latest science. She is very keen to get involved,' said one of the UK's most eminent experts on climate change, who agreed to speak to The Observer on condition of anonymity.
He added: 'From her own observations on the climate she has become worried like the rest of us. She has made it clear she wants to raise the importance of the issue.'
In addition to her own fieldwork, the Queen was inspired by briefing papers supplied by Blair's chief scientist, Sir David King - who has described the threat of climate change as greater than global terrorism - and John Schellnhuber, research director of the Tyndall Centre, where Britain's pioneering work on global warming is conducted.
During this week's conference, Tony Blair, using a live video link, will hail a new Anglo-German alliance to persuade other countries, including the US, to reduce the impact of global warming.
Schellnhuber, who this week will receive a CBE from the Queen for his work on climate change, added that the identity of the next President of the US, the planet's biggest polluter, would dominate discussions.
'If John Kerry wins, there might be a better chance of an open dialogue, there might be a feeling we can start again. If Bush wins, then we will have to wait and see,' added the former chief scientist to the German government.
Environmentalists believe that the Queen's intervention is likely to prove crucial, particularly as Blair has promised to make climate change a key issue at the G8 group of major industrial nations next year.
Among those present for the Queen this week will be Sir David King, Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who sounded a fresh warning only last week about the perils of climate change.
Bush has provoked international condemnation by refusing to ratify the Kyoto protocol, the international treaty to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Russia's recent decision to sign the treaty has isolated the US on an issue described by Blair as the greatest environmental threat to the planet.
Both Downing Street and Buckingham Palace refused to comment last night, in keeping with the convention that Prime Ministers do not disclose the content of conversations with the Queen.
She is known to take an active interest in her weekly audiences with her Prime Ministers, for which she is carefully briefed: after decades on the throne, her political insights are said to rival those of senior diplomats. The conversations take place without private secretaries present and are traditionally never disclosed by either side - although the Queen did once admit that her most enjoyable audiences had been with Winston Churchill.
On the rare occasions that the Queen does express a forceful personal opinion on political issues, protocol dictates the Prime Minister should raise it on her behalf with the appropriate head of state or minister - but discreetly, without compromising her. It is extremely rare for her views to become public.