he Queen welcomed world leaders at a glittering G7 reception in Cornwall where Prince Charles urged the crowd to tackle climate change with the same urgency as the pandemic.
The Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Friday evening attended their first joint engagement since the pandemic began.
Their presence at the G7 summit is part of the government’s attempts to maximise the royal family’s powers of soft diplomacy on US President Joe Biden and other powerful world leaders.
And as she posed with world leaders the Queen asked the question possibly on the mind of every G7 world leader – “Are you supposed to be looking as if you’re enjoying yourself?”
Known for her wit, used to put nervous guests at ease, the Queen’s quip came as presidents and prime ministers smiled for the camera during a family photo after an evening reception.
During the reception, the Prince of Wales urged G7 leaders to display the same sense of urgency in tackling climate change as they showed in tackling the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking at the Eden Project, Charles said the Covid-19 pandemic had shown what a “truly borderless crisis” looks like.
“Of course, we did not fully see Covid coming,” he said.
“Yet climate change and biodiversity loss represent a borderless crisis, the solutions to which have been argued about and postponed for far too long.”
He said the battle against the pandemic provided a “crystal-clear example of the scale, and sheer speed, at which the global community can tackle crises when we combine political will with business ingenuity and public mobilisation”.
Addressing the G7 leaders and a group of company bosses, the prince said: “We are doing it for the pandemic. So if you don’t mind me saying so, we must also do it for the planet.”
Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie – wearing a floral dress from The Vampire’s Wife – arrived at the Eden Project before the royal family and were there to welcome the Queen after she entered the popular tourist attraction at about 6.30pm.
The Queen walked just ahead of Charles and Camilla and they were followed a few paces behind by William and Kate.
Kate wore a mid-length, £3,000 cream gown by Alexander McQueen while Camilla opted for a long sleeve black and white frock.
The Queen wore a dress patterned with flowers.
After a brief exchange of words between Mr Johnson and the Queen, she led the way into the reception and was followed by the senior royals.
German leader Angela Merkel, Canadian leader Justin Trudeau, Italy’s Mario Draghi, France’s Emanuel Macron and Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga attended the reception.
After the 40-minute reception, they moved to an area to take a socially distanced group photo, and after taking their seats and posing for a few moments, the Queen said: “Are you supposed to be looking as if you’re enjoying yourself?”
The leaders around the Queen laughed and Prime Minister Boris Johnson said emphatically “yes”.
Mr Johnson added: “We have been enjoying ourselves – in spite of appearances.”
Mrs Merkel walked over to the Queen and thanked her for posing for the picture, saying: “Thank you for doing that for us.”
After taking a picture with world leaders, the Queen, joined by Camilla and Kate, attended a celebration of The Big Lunch initiative, which brings together communities involving food and drink.
During the celebration, the Queen insisted on borrowing a ceremonial sword to cut a cake during a royal engagement – prompting laughter from the Duchesses of Cornwall and Cambridge.
The monarch had been handed the sword by Edward Bolitho, the Lord-Lieutenant of Cornwall, for the task of cutting a large cake marking the Big Lunch at the Eden Project.
When told by an aide that there was a conventional knife available, the Queen replied: “I know there is, this is more unusual”.
The Duchess of Cornwall commented: “That’s slicing through” before assisting with the final part of cutting the cake, which was loudly applauded by those at the event.
After handing the ceremonial sword back, the Queen used a knife to cut a second slice of cake and remarked: “That looks very good.”
Peter Stewart, executive director of the Eden Project, introduced around 20 guests who had been invited to the event to the three royals.
Meanwhile Charles, joined by Prince William, hosted a reception for the leaders and chief executive officers from some of the world’s largest companies to discuss how the private sector can work with governments to tackle the climate emergency.
The prince has formed a group of more than 300 global business leaders to make a “coalition of the willing” in his Sustainable Markets Initiative.
He said there were three “powerful messages” from the business world: “First, industry and finance need clear market signals, standards and regulation in order to provide the essential conditions to enable them more rapidly to re-orientate their operations and make the required transition.
“Second, international financial institutions need better ways to leverage public funding, to catalyse private finance and mitigate risk.
“And third, a transformative outcome will require a pipeline of fully developed and genuinely sustainable projects, at sufficient scale and ready for investment.”
The menu has been created by Emily Scott of the Watergate Bay Hotel in Newquay. Cornish turbot and new potatoes for the main course, is reported to be on the menu.
Earlier, Dr Biden went to a school with Kate. The two women met for the first time at Connor Downs Academy in Hayle in the county of Cornwall.
Addressing a reporters on Friday, Boris Johnson said the G7 must learn from the mistakes of the pandemic as he predicted the leading economies would “bounce back” from the Covid-19 recession.
The Prime Minister said: “We need to make sure that we learn the lessons from the pandemic, we need to make sure that we don’t repeat some of the errors that we doubtless made in the course of the last 18 months or so.”
“But it is vital that we don’t repeat the mistake of the last great crisis, the last great economic recession of 2008, when the recovery was not uniform across all parts of society.”
There was a risk the pandemic could leave a “lasting scar” as “inequalities may be entrenched”, Mr Johnson said.
“We need to make sure that as we recover, we level up across our societies and we build back better,” he added.
The Prime Minister also suggested the recovery should be a “gender neutral” or “more feminine” one – a reference to a commitment to spend £430 million on education, especially for girls, in some of the world’s poorest nations.