Chris Packham to have ‘cheeky words' about hunting when collecting CBE

The TV presenter and naturalist praised the royal family for raising awareness of mental health issues.

Chris Packham has vowed to have some “cheeky little words” about the hunting of wildlife when he goes to collect his CBE at Buckingham Palace.

The TV presenter, a passionate defender of wildlife, was named in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list for his services to nature conservation.

Generations of the monarchy have enjoyed country pursuits, including hunting.

The naturalist said he does not care if it is “deemed inappropriate” to bring up the subject of shooting game with members of the royal family when he receives the honour.

Winterwatch - 2019
Chris Packham returns to Winterwatch later in January (Jo Charlesworth/BBC)

Packham, 57, told the Radio Times magazine: “There will be lots of cheeky little words, I assure you. Nobody ever gets off the hook around me.

“You don’t get many opportunities in life, and sometimes people are a little bit shy, but if I meet someone of influence I will use that opportunity.

“I don’t care if it’s a bit clumsy, I don’t care if it can be deemed inappropriate: it’s important to say something.”

He added: “I don’t know anything about the ceremony or what happens, but I presume at some point someone’s going to hand me a medal.

“And whether that’s the opportunity, or another one is – don’t worry, I’ll do it.”

Packham is vice president of the RSPB and the RSPCA, and supports other conservation and animal welfare charities, but he is best known for hosting BBC Two’s Winterwatch and its seasonal spin-off programmes as well as a number of natural history shows.

Radio Times
Radio Times magazine (Radio Times)

He praised the royal family for raising awareness around mental health issues.

The presenter, who has Asperger’s syndrome, said: “One of the positives of the royal family is that they have been talking openly and honestly about their mental health issues, such as Prince William and Prince Harry dealing with their mother’s tragic death.

“That’s just the sort of bravery that I’m talking about: having the courage to come out and talk about things that will change us.

“So I’m very flattered by the offer of a CBE and I hope to use it to open more doors and have more conversations.”

He said he “took some advice” when he was first offered the CBE, adding: “If it had been for broadcasting, I don’t know what I would have done. But it’s for services to nature conservation, and that’s what I’m all about.

“I’ve been given a small voice, and if I don’t exercise that voice for change then I’m not doing my duty and I couldn’t live with myself.”

Packham returns to screens in BBC Two’s Winterwatch from January 29.

Radio Times magazine is on sale now.

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