A royal treat

March 24, 2010

Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall participate in REC ceremony as part of Hungarian visit

By Nathan Johnson

WELCOME! Hungarian President Solyom and REC Executive Director Szigeti Bonifert greet Prince Charles to Szentendre. Photos: Gabor Kardos
Thursday, March 18, was a very special day for the REC, as His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall paid a visit to the REC Headquarters in Szentendre. The visit was arranged in conjunction with the REC's 20th Anniversary and His Royal Highness's participation later that afternoon at a business roundtable in Budapest, arranged jointly by the British Embassy, REC and The Prince of Wales's Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change.

After a warm welcome to His Royal Highness from President of Hungary Laszlo Solyom and REC Executive Director Marta Szigeti Bonifert, the 'royal visit' to Szentendre began inside the REC Conference Center with an interactive demonstration of the building's technical solutions. The Conference Center was retrofitted in 2008 and now operates as a zero-emissions building.

GUEST OF HONOUR: REC workshop participants take a break for a memorable photo opportunity.

The visit also provided an opportunity to bring the royal couple up to date about REC efforts in the region. Three specific REC projects were introduced (My Friend Boo, Kyoto in the Home, and the Green Pack) and a brief presentation of previous REC achievements followed. Students taking part in a 'deforestation workshop' at the Conference Center also had an opportunity to greet the royal couple. Among those attending the presentation were President of Hungary Laszlo Solyom, Hungarian Parliamentary Commissioner for Future Generations Sandor Fulop, UK Ambassador to Hungary Gregory John Dorey, and Hungarian Ambassador to the UK Borbala Czako.

DudesCENTRE STAGE: Prince Charles and President Solyom take their seats after a tour of the Conference Center.

Quite naturally granted the opportunity to speak about the environment, Prince Charles spoke of his long-term belief in addressing root causes of the present global crisis - as opposed to merely responding to symptoms. He also urged for a paradigm shift away from 'classical' economic thinking, claiming that he has spent some 25 years attempting to persuade economists and business leaders that standard economic indicators, such as gross domestic product (GDP), are inadequate measures of wealth and prosperity. Such revelations are unsettling to conventional thinkers, he acknowledged, but are quite in agreement with scientists and people from other disciplines who are growing more confident and knowledgeable about promoting economy-based solutions to environment- and climate-based problems.

ROOT & BRANCH: Charles and Camilla plant a Hungarian Oak in the REC arboretum.

The festivities in Szentendre concluded with an outdoor ceremony during which the Prince and Duchess helped to plant a young Hungarian Oak (Quercus frainetto) in the REC arboretum just behind the Conference Center, accompanied by the arboretum's designer, Maria Lodovica Gullino from the University of Turin. After a particularly long and cold winter, some pleasant afternoon weather lent extra cheer to the proceedings.

After this momentous hour at the REC, the royal couple departed for Budapest, where Prince Charles was to take part in a special roundtable discussion at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences: 'Towards Low Carbon Economy in Hungary: Business Perspectives & Recommendations'. Presiding over the discussion were Sandrine Dixson-Decleve and Craig Bennett, respectively Director and Deputy Director of the Prince of Wales's International Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change, and REC Executive Director Marta Szigeti Bonifert.