The Energy Saving Trust office is only a stone’s throw from Westminster Abbey, so we’ve been watching the preparations for the royal wedding for several weeks – from the press enclosure blocking off the southern half of Green Park to this morning’s discovery of security barriers in Tothill Street, near the Abbey. Today, as the bride-to-be makes her last-minute preparations – flowers, dresses – the helicopters have been circling.
So naturally our team has been speculating on how possible it is to have a ‘green royal wedding’.
Of course, there are lots of places to get general eco-wedding tips, whether or not many of these might be adaptable for the special needs of the royals. Thankfully your next-door neighbour probably won’t have to factor helicopter surveillance into her wedding’s carbon footprint – but being royal does give you some great green options.
So how does it weigh up? We consulted the Friends of the Earth guide to green weddings to see.
1. The ring. Friends of the Earth suggests an antique, recycled gold or fair-trade silver ring. In this case, the wedding ring itself will reportedly be made of Welsh gold, and the engagement ring is famously both iconic and ‘pre-loved’. So far, very green: TICK!
2. Invites and photos. Apparently not only invitations but all documents for this wedding are being printed on recycled paper. Clearly a TICK.
Also, where the standard green advice is to set up a website for sharing info and pictures, not only have they set up an official website – we think we can say that there will be no problem at all getting hold of those all-important memories online. TICK!
3. Gifts. Friends of the Earth rather optimistically suggests donations to themselves – as well as to other green organisations. But they’re not so far off the mark, because William & Kate have set up a fund, in lieu of presents, for donations to their favourite charities – which includes an environmental charity. We’re sure the father of the groom could come up with some more good suggestions here.
There is also news that he might give the newlyweds an eco-mansion built on the Duchy of Cornwall estate, complete with solar heating and woollen insulation. This is a very green present,which should set the tone for the other guests, we hope. (And perhaps the ‘antiques’ idea will save the day again.) We give this item a big, happy TICK.
(Here’s hoping the crowned heads of Europe are on the lookout for some recycled wrapping paper.)
4. The Dress! We hope that the designers of the rumoured three wedding gowns (and the bridesmaids’ dresses) have used natural materials and sourced their fabrics carefully. And we know they’ll be made locally. So that’s a TICK.
5. Organic wine? Yes please! (And not a styrofoam cup in sight.)
Other green options on the drink front include Dom Perignon champagne, which – as we reported a while ago – has redesigned its bottle to save carbon. But we’re pretty sure the Palace caterers know where to get the good stuff.
6. Food. Well, Duchy Originals do some lovely local, organic party treats – useful for your own party, as well – and as for the rest, the Palace has confirmed that all food, drink and flowers at the wedding will be sustainably sourced. This is a very big TICK.
Let’s just look for a moment at how organic food has entered the mainstream, compared to a couple of decades ago. These days, people simply expect the food at such an occasion to be organic, as a mark of quality. And also (give or take the odd Spanish strawberry) local. This is a really positive development which will be reflected in barbecues and street parties up and down the country, whether we notice it or not.
7. Transport. The Abbey is very near a station, though we’re pretty sure that station will be closed on the big day. And the royals can’t exactly ask all their friends to come by train to save air miles. (They’re even less likely to share a coach into town.) Then there are those helicopters…
But there are some definite pluses: the people camping out on the streets to get a glimpse of the procession will be saving carbon; the day off for Britain’s workers is bound to save many thousands of commuting miles; and, best of all, the happy couple will be transported in the greenest way possible: a horsedrawn carriage. (This is exactly as recommended to the Telegraph by our own press officer and blogger, Gary Hartley.)
So no engine-revving or fumes there.
The Palace will offset the carbon footprint of the wedding, as they always offset their general household activities. And those press stands, with the scaffolding and so on? All built with FSG-certified wood.
So, on balance, we’ll give this a TICK.
8. Confetti. FOE recommends either biodegradable confetti or birdseed. We don’t think the Abbey would really support birdseed, but the traditional rice option is also possibly the greenest.
9. Now we get to the honeymoon. FOE recommends a break within the UK. And with Cornwall in the family, as it were, and a rented home on the Isle of Anglesey, there are some very scenic options open to the royal couple. Plenty of people in these straitened times may well spend a romantic honeymoon week or two decorating their first home together…
But we hear that the royal couple have hinted that they may instead go to the Great Barrier Reef. This is pretty much the opposite of a green honeymoon. Prince William has reportedly always wanted to dive there; and they may even decide to stay ‘ a short one-hour flight’ away from the actual destination. This item gets a big X, we’re afraid.
So don’t try this one at home, kids. Get that tent out and head for the hills. Wedding dress and wellies was always a good look.
And for the likes of the rest of us, the Ecologist has some ideas for your own Royal Wedding party, right down to recycled vintage bunting (and a really cute cake).