The Prince of Wales referenced becoming "grandfather for the fifth time" in a speech on Tuesday

By Simon Perry
June 08, 2021 12:27 PM
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Prince Charles is speaking out for the first time in public about becoming a grandfather for the fifth time, calling the birth of granddaughter Lilbet "Lili" Diana "such happy news."

The Prince of Wales made the personal comment about the June 4 arrival of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's daughter during a speech he gave on Tuesday at a carmakers' factory in Cowley.

As he spoke about innovation and sustainability at BMW's Mini factory, he said, "The development of technology like electric vehicles, or green hydrogen for that matter for heavy transport, is vital for maintaining the health of our world for future generations, something I am only too aware of today, having recently become a grandfather for the fifth time."

"Such happy news really does remind one of the necessity of continued innovation in this area - especially around sustainable battery technology - in view of the legacy we bequeath to our grandchildren," he continued.

Soon after the arrival of Lilbet - who was named for Charles's mother Queen Elizabeth - was announced on Sunday, the prince and other members of the royal family welcomed the news in a statement, saying they were "delighted with the news of the birth of a daughter for The Duke and Duchess of Sussex."

Prince Charles
Prince Charles
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Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall also shared their well wishes on social media, writing, "Congratulations to Harry, Meghan and Archie on the arrival of baby Lilibet Diana 🎊 Wishing them all well at this time."

Charles, who took one of the new cars for a spin around the factory during his visit on Tuesday, said the test run was "on the whole without incident and only went to prove that the new Mini is silent but deadly! and also a very good color indeed if I may say so and to paraphrase the immortal words of Sir Michael Caine [in The Italian Job], 'At least I didn't blow the bloody doors off!'"

Prince Charles
Credit: Peter Nicholls - WPA Pool/Getty
Prince Charles
Prince Charles at the Mini plant on Tuesday
| Credit: PETER NICHOLLS/POOL/AFP via Getty

Charles' visit to the factory comes on the occasion of its 20th anniversary.

"I understand that some of you here are third - even fourth-generation employees. Which is quite a remarkable fact when you think about it, and a real tribute to the role that this plant plays in the community as a family company," he said.

The environmentally-conscious prince added, "For a large part of my life, I have been trying to draw attention for the need to operate as sustainably as possible and within country boundaries, so it really is very encouraging to see the breadth of the sustainability measures that are being implemented across the company, not just in the development of a practical and popular electric vehicle, but in all that you are doing across the factory sites to reduce carbon footprints across the product life-cycle."

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He also talked about how his late father, Prince Philip, who died aged 99 on April 9, would drive around in an electric vehicle as early as 1981, and "famously drove his eco-friendly liquid petroleum gas-powered Metro-cab all over London." Charles remarked that it is now on display in the museum at Sandringham in Norfolk. 

Prince Charles
Prince Charles on Tuesday
| Credit: Jacob King - WPA Pool/Getty

Earlier in the day, he planted a tree at the University of Oxford's Botanic Gardens to mark the park's 400th birthday - and he made sure it came with his traditional good wishes.

"Good luck tree," he said as he got to work.