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Even though our ties to the crown have long been severed, British royals still enjoy celebrity status in the United States. From their luxury cars to their exciting social events, royal life is a source of interest for Americans and many others around the world. Recently, one royal has been in the spotlight for his sustainability efforts in the face of climate change.
The heir to the throne, Prince Charles, has a classic British car that runs on bioethanol made from surplus English wine. This is not entirely surprising given the range of fascinating cars that the royal family drives.
What is Prince Charles’ wine-powered car and how does it work?
According to Car and Driver, the innovative fuel source now powers Prince Charles' Aston Martin (a DB6 MKII Volante in Seychelles Blue, according to an article in Wallpaper*, as featured in Aston Martin Magazine).
The prince purportedly wanted to continue driving the keepsake, which was a gift from Queen Elizabeth II for his 21st birthday, without feeling bad about its carbon emissions.
After some persistence, Prince Charles was able to convince the engineers at Aston Martin to convert his beloved roadster to a wine-derived fuel source. In all fairness, Car and Driver noted that it's not just fueled by wine but by a gasoline-bioethanol blend. The latter portion, making up 85% of the blend, can be made from wine and the alcohol from fermented whey produced during cheesemaking, according to the BBC.
His Royal Highness even humorously told The Telegraph (reported via Car and Driver) that the Aston Martin's exhaust "smells delicious" when he drives it and “it runs better and is more powerful on [the gasoline-bioethanol fuel] than it is on petrol.”
Prince Charles' commitment to eco-friendly living
In an interview with the BBC, Prince Charles was questioned about his affinity for cars, which might contradict his environmentally-friendly stance. He conceded that he was a fan, “But that was before we knew what the problems were.” Electric power now fuels most of the vehicles on his properties, though the waste associated with batteries is of concern to him. Looking to the future of sustainable transportation, he is an advocate of hydrogen technology.
As part of his commitment to helping the environment, Prince Charles has made other sustainable changes to his lifestyle and to some of the facilities that the royals rely on.
The prince explained that part of his routine involves eating less fish, meat, and dairy products. He also makes use of alternative power sources like wood-chip-powered biomass boilers and a hydroelectric river turbine at his Birkhall residence, and solar panels for his Gloucestershire farm buildings and London residence.
What's more, Car and Driver noted that he was also a key force behind the transition to recycled cooking oil as fuel for Queen Elizabeth's royal train. The prince commented that the conversion was quite successful despite some complaints from train maintenance workers.
Environmental practices making a splash in the wake of the United Nations Climate Change Conference
Car and Driver explained that Prince Charles' candid chat with the BBC precipitated a 2021 United Nations climate conference.
The COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference, hosted by the UK and Italy, started in Glasgow, Scotland, on October 31 and will run until the 12th of November, according to the official site of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The Prince of Wales expressed to the BBC the need for real change in environmental policies as opposed to the mere discussion of it by government officials.
Aston Martin Magazine hails His Royal Highness as "an early pioneer of sustainable living." The ideals he put forward in the BBC interview certainly seem to align with the type of forward-thinking that is needed for a more environmentally conscious future.
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