With the international action weekend for Kidical Mass coinciding with the coronation weekend, it occurred to me that many of the things we stand for – a greener future, inclusivity and international cooperation – are themes which King Charles might appreciate. So I thought I would write to his office at Buckingham Palace and let them know about us.
King Charles as the Prince of Wales was no stranger to environmental activism. The press reported that as King he would step back from that a little publicly (though I noted that his first official engagement post coronation was related to a climate-relevant research laboratory in Cambridge). We have the advantage of being able to be slightly more outspoken than the monarchy. During Queen Elizabeth’s reign I saw many articles claiming that her hat/broach were a clear statement of her views. Here’s a clear statement of our views:
“Reading’s children deserve safe cycling infrastructure”
I wanted our letter to the King to look beautiful. I raided my children’s stamp collection to decorate the bottom of the letter with bikes (outlined in paint pen), and I put out a call in the Kidical Mass UK Facebook group for some additional photos from other rides. I saw many beautiful images and I’m particularly grateful to Kidical Mass Guildford and Kidical Mass Bridgwater for their pictures of, respectively, a huge number of cyclists and a very patriotic individual. I included these with the letter and a few pictures from our ride.
The younger of the Kidical Mass Interns (my three year old, who was delighted by the spectacle of the coronation) was really excited to help me post our letter to the King. I did however, have to correct a few misapprehensions. No, we weren’t personally going to visit His Majesty to hand over our letter, we would put it in the post box. No, one of the King’s guards wasn’t going to come to the post box to collect it, our friendly local postie would pick it up. The intern remained buoyant despite these set backs, as a trip to the post box is always a fun outing.
The invite extended to the King and his family at the end of our letter (full text below) is a genuine one, despite the vanishing unlikeliness of him being able to accept it. I would like to extend an equally warm invite to you, dear reader, as you too are always welcome on our rides – especially if you share our vision for a more child and climate friendly Reading.
On the weekend of Their Majesties' coronation 20 "Kidical Mass" rides took place across the United Kingdom, from Inverness to Portsmouth, involving over 1500 cyclists of all ages. Our ride here in Reading was joyful and involved crowns, flags and sceptre-themed cake pops.
As the Prince of Wales, His Majesty was known for caring about our planet and seeking to safeguard it for future generations. Kidical Mass rides are organised and marshalled by volunteers. We seek to build confidence in young riders and create a community of cycling families, with the long term aim of reducing car usage.
I found one of the most beautiful themes of Their Majesties' coronation to be that of inclusion of all groups of people. The rides hope to draw attention to the need for cycling infrastructure which is inclusive of and safe for everyone, especially this country's youngest citizens.
I know the Royal Family does so much for the reputation of this country abroad. I hope it would please His Majesty to learn that so many of us used the long weekend given to us by the coronation to take part in the rides, which were part of an international action weekend. To tackle climate change, we must all work together.
Though I appreciate His Majesty's schedule will likely make this impossible, we would like to invite him and any young cyclists in his family to join us at any Kidical Mass ride here in Reading. The enthusiasm and determination of the children involved is truly inspiring, and gives me much hope for our future.