Thermostats turned down across Royal Palaces

As the Royal Household works to achieve Net Zero, initiatives have included reducing the temperature to 16C in vacant rooms, Lizzie Robinson writes.

The thermostats in Royal Palaces have been turned down in a bid to reduce emissions, it has been revealed.

The annual Sovereign Grant report shows initiatives across the Occupied Royal Palaces have resulted in a 19% decrease in natural gas and heating emissions over the last year as the Royal Household works to achieve net zero.

Initiatives have included reducing the temperature to 16C in vacant rooms and 19C in those that are occupied during the winter.

The King has championed a sustainable future for more than 50 years and as Prince of Wales launched a number of initiatives to help protect the environment.

Royal residence Sandringham, in Norfolk. / Credit: PA

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said: “I think His Majesty’s longstanding leadership in this space has reinforced the strategic importance of this issue to the Royal Household.

“Our ambition is to be a leading, best practice organisation within the historic environment and hopefully in our annual report this year the strategy that we have outlined supports that ambition.

“We recognise climate change is a global threat. It’s an issue that faces us all and it’s only by working with others are we able to deliver the solution. So, setting out our route map to net zero, which we have done in our annual report this year, gives us the long-term objectives of how we will achieve net zero within this environment.

The King has championed a sustainable future for more than fifty years. / Credit: PA

“In the short term, though, it is all about reducing our emissions where we can control our emissions and in adjusting room temperatures, whether that’s during the working week or whether that’s limiting the heating on weekends, or whether it’s turning off the gas lamps where it’s safe to do so, as a precursor to changing them over to electric operation, or indeed, if it’s a case of turning the heating off on the swimming pool.

“These are all areas which are about the steps that we can take to reduce our emissions.”

There was also a 43% decrease in business travel emissions, largely due to the reduced number of overseas visits requested by the government.

However, questions have been raised about how charter flights taken within the UK by the Royal Family sit with their aspiration to set a high benchmark for environmental sustainability.

The King, for example, travelled between residences on a charter flight from Aberdeen to London on the 17 October at a cost of £25,687.

A spokesperson said: “The decision on the form of transport used relies on a number of different factors.

“We take into account safety, security, minimising disruption to others, the effective and efficient use of time and environmental considerations.

“The focus for reducing our travel emissions is really two-fold… First of all there is the vehicle fleet and the decarbonisation through conversion to electric vehicles.

“The other aspect is the fact of the increasing use of sustainable aviation fuel.

Questions have been raised about how charter flights taken by the Royal Family sit with their aspiration for environmental sustainability. / Credit: PA

“That is currently constrained by limits of supply and it’s an area where we as a Household have an important part to play in terms of encouraging the greater take up of sustainable aviation fuel and therefore increasing the supply.”

A breakdown of costs from the principal overseas visits undertaken over the last year

  • The King and Queen’s first overseas State Visit to Germany in March: £146,219
  • Charles and Camilla’s trip to Rwanda in June for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting: £186,571
  • The Prince and Princess of Wales’ visit to Boston in November: £48,034
  • The Prince of Wales’ trip to Poland in March: £39,641

The Royal Train was deployed on several visits in the UK over the last year but it is understood its future will be reviewed after Queen Elizabeth II’s death.

A spokesperson said: “The train has always been a helpful asset in our travel portfolio because it’s effective and operationally efficient.

“It helps to facilitate programmes on engagements that might be difficult to achieve if we were using alternative forms of travel. It does provide secure overnight accommodation and that does mitigate security costs.

“I think we did say we would review the use of the Royal train on her late Majesty’s demise and our conclusion from that review is that it is too early in His Majesty’s reign to determine what the future usage of the train might be.

“Once we have determined what that future usage is going to be, we will be in a position to consider plans for a timetable to decommissioning.”

Travel on the Royal train over the last year included trips for the King from Ayr to Manchester in January at a cost of £31,571 and from Kemble to Darlington in April for £27,645.

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