Queen 'a keen litter picker', says TV's Kirstie Allsopp
The Queen is a "keen litter picker", presenter Kirstie Allsopp has said as she launched a nationwide push to clean Britain's streets to celebrate the monarch's 90th birthday.
More than 200,000 volunteers will tidy their neighbourhoods this weekend to prepare for the Queen's birthday on April 21 and her official birthday in June.
The Location, Location, Location host, a leading part of the Clean For The Queen (CFTQ) initiative, said of the Queen : "I happen to know she's a very keen litter picker. I have it on good authority that if she sees litter, she picks it up."
Although Allsopp said litter picking "empowers" a community and gives them "control", the campaign has been criticised in some places for being patronising - expecting people to do unpaid work for the Queen.
But the UK's biggest anti-litter campaign is not just about supporting the monarchy, Allsopp said.
She said: "I do not think most people are doing it just for the Queen... (CFTQ) is a fantastic concept in that it's celebratory and I think people enjoy celebratory things... but it is as much going out and doing it for your community.
"You can be an absolutely fantastic republican litter picker and still want to clean up."
According to anti-littering charity, Keep Britain Tidy, littering has increased by 500% since the 1960s, costing local authorities nearly £1 billion a year.
Allsopp said attitudes needed to change, adding: "Litter is a problem, we are losing that cultural thing of 'you do not drop litter' and that's why education is so important.
"I don't pay my taxes to have to choose between a mental health worker and someone picking up litter. We have finite resources and we create the litter.
"If there was a bottomless pit of money, I still would not want people to drop litter. I still would resent the idea of paying people to pick up litter."
Allsopp, an ambassador for Keep Britain Tidy, picked up litter with pupils of Channing School, north London at a Westminster park.
The school are winners of the CFTQ's school poster competition and 11 girls aged 7-10 scoured the spotless Victoria Tower Gardens to a backdrop of Parliament.
Government ministers and nearly 100 MPs from across the House of Commons have also pledged their support, many participating in events at their constituencies this weekend.
Prime Minister David Cameron and mayor of London Boris Johnson are both backing the campaign, putting their differences over whether Britain should leave the European Union aside.
More than 200 local authorities are getting involved in activities over March 4, 5 and 6 along with big retailers such as John Lewis, M&S, Costa Coffee, McDonalds and Greggs.
The campaign has also inspired an episode of BBC Radio Four soap The Archers to host a fictional litter picking event in the show's village of Ambridge.