‘Racing to extinction’ - Extinction Rebellion delivers respectful requests to the Queen at Royal Ascot - Extinction Rebellion UK

‘Racing to extinction’ – Extinction Rebellion delivers respectful requests to the Queen at Royal Ascot

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  • Four women from Extinction Rebellion entered the Royal Ascot race track with a banner reading ‘Racing to extinction’ before Queen Elizabeth and onlookers
  • The women requested that the Queen use her platform to urge policymakers to drive action on the climate and ecological emergency, which they expressed in an open letter to her before the action
  • In the footsteps of suffragette Emily Davison, protesters spoke women-to-women, calling on attendees to use their connections and influence to protect future generations
  • They entered the track while the horses were stationary so as not to harm any living thing
  • The action comes in the run-up to Extinction Rebellion’s next large scale rebellion in London starting August 23rd

On Saturday June 19th, the final day of Royal Ascot, four women from Extinction Rebellion entered the racecourse with a banner reading ‘Racing to extinction.’ They glued themselves to their banner and chained themselves to the fence before the Queen, requesting that she use her influence to tackle the climate and ecological emergency.

The action pays tribute to the suffragette, Emily Davison, who died attempting to attach a flag to the King’s horse during the Epsom Derby in 1913. Like Emily, the protesters say they want to urge those with connections and influence to drive positive change. 

One of the protesters, Sam Smithson, 38, said: “I’m really sorry to be disrupting this event, but unfortunately, like suffragette Emily Davison, we have been left with no other choice, as we are running out of time in the race to tackle the climate and ecological emergency. We can’t negotiate with each other or nature for more time by carbon offsetting, whilst also promoting infinite growth on a finite planet and chopping down our ancient woodlands.”

They staged the action while the Queen’s horses Tactical and Light Refrain were stationary at the start line ready with the others to race in the Jersey Stakes. By crossing the track 15 minutes before the race they ensured sufficient time for management to warn the jockeys and prevent any injury from occurring.

Protesters wished to speak women-to-women, presenting three respectful requests to the Queen that they had previously sent to her in an open letter. [1] 

They request she use her influence to make an emergency speech to parliament and her citizens, urging them to tell the truth and act now on the climate and ecological emergency. In her face-to-face talks with the prime minister, they ask that she encourage him to respond proportionately to the environment and climate emergency declared by the government in May 2019. 

Finally, they request that she urge parliament to reassess the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (2021), which will restrict our democratic right to protest government inaction, and the inadequate Environment Bill. This second bill was delayed again and will, as it currently stands, put the UK’s environment at risk of further destruction and degradation – something we cannot afford at this perilous point in time.

Another of the protesters, Sally Davidson, 33, commented: “The Queen has a unique position in the Commonwealth and direct access to the government and Prime Minister. She can encourage them to take action on the climate and ecological emergency, rather than just pay lip service to it. Two years ago, Parliament declared a climate emergency and in 2015 they signed the Paris Agreement. Despite this, during the pandemic alone, they have invested more in fossil fuels than previous years.”

The protest came in the same week that the Committee on Climate Change, the government’s own advisors on climate, announced that the government is failing to protect people from the risks of the climate crisis and that they were frustrated by the “absolutely illogical” lack of sufficient action on adaptation, particularly as acting is up to 10 times more cost-effective than not doing so. [2] [3]

The action comes two months before the group’s next Rebellion starting August 23rd.

Notes to editors 

[1] Sign An Open Letter to The Queen to Act on the CEE:

[2] The Adaptation Committee’s Independent Assessment of UK Climate Risk:  https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/independent-assessment-of-uk-climate-risk/

[3] UK failing to protect against climate dangers, advisers warn: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jun/16/uk-failing-to-protect-against-climate-dangers-advisers-warn


Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and increasingly rapid climate change. If urgent and radical action isn’t taken, we’re heading towards 4˚C warming, and the societal collapse and mass loss of life that that implies. The younger generation, racially marginalised communities and the Global South are on the front-line. No-one will escape the devastating impacts.

Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.

Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:

  1. Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
  2. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
  3. Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

What Emergency? | Extinction Rebellion in Numbers |This Is Not A Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook 

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About Rising Up!

Extinction Rebellion emerged from the Rising Up! network, which promotes a fundamental change of our political and economic system to one which maximises well-being and minimises harm. Change needs to be nurtured in a culture of reverence, gratitude and inclusion while the tools of civil disobedience and direct action are used to express our collective power.

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