Against the magnificent backdrop of Somerset House, excited cheers from over 100 cyclists filled the air as Lady Amelia Windsor proudly cut the blue ribbon to launch the epic London to Monaco bike ride.
Passing through seven countries in eight days via the snow-peaked Swiss Alps and sparkling Italian Lakes, the 1000-kilometre journey is due to end this week with a regal champagne finish and personal welcome at the palace of another royal – Prince Albert of Monaco.
The annual ride, which raised over £100,000 before it had even begun, was in aid of ocean conservation charity, the Blue Marine Foundation, of which Amelia, 28, is an ambassador.
“It was fun and such an honour to be asked to start it off,” she exclusively said. Displaying her green fashion credentials for the occasion in her favourite multicoloured ‘Quad’ dress – made from recycled fabric by ethical British fashion designer Kitty Joseph – she continues: “I don’t think I’d be able to cycle that far but I’m sure it would be an amazing experience. Although I grew up riding a bike in Cambridge, I don’t do it in London as I’d find it terrifying. I walk everywhere instead.”
Amelia, who is the Duke of Kent’s granddaughter, recalls how she went cycling on a holiday in the Alps last month – on an e-bike. “It was magical and incredibly beautiful,” she says. “We were drinking straight from the streams and the water was so fresh and clear that having a shower in the morning felt like being in a spa.” Water is at the heart of Amelia’s work with the Blue Marine Foundation, the ocean conservation charity set up in 2010 to restore and protect the sea’s health and vital marine habitats and address over-fishing – one of the world’s worst environmental problems.
Described as “the most beautiful royal”, Amelia was signed by Storm model agency in 2016 while still a student at Edinburgh University and after her collaboration with Scottish clothing company Brora – which specializes in natural materials – she was invited three years ago to become an ambassador for the Blue Marine Foundation. “It’s a great charity and is doing such vital work with tangible results all over the world,” she says. “As well as developing sustainable models of fishing, it has protected kelp forests and achieved a successful ban on bottom trawling on the Dogger Bank in the North Sea.” Highlighting the importance of keeping our oceans clean, she continues: “Swimming in the sea is one of my favourite things. It’s a shame you have to check a map of the UK coastline to find out if sewage has been pumped into it before you swim.”
By using her platform to draw attention to environmental causes, Amelia is following in the green footsteps of her royal cousins.
Princess Eugenie featured exclusively in said earlier this year in her role as ambassador for the Blue Marine Foundation, as she helped re-wild oysters in the Solent, and last week, ahead of his Earthshot Summit in New York, the Prince of Wales scattered oysters in the East River as part of the Billion Oyster Project to restore oyster reefs in New York’s waterways.
They are among the new generation of royals to seize the eco-baton from the King, a keen environmentalist for decades. Looking to the future, Amelia says: “When I see the good work being done by teams like Blue Marine, I feel optimistic that we can stop the damage to our planet together.”