Kathy Lette forced to apologise after ‘unacceptable’ coronation joke about sinking Pacific island of Tuvalu

An Australian-British author who participated in TV coverage of King Charles’ coronation has apologised after joking about the need for snorkels on a Pacific Island nation being lost to catastrophic sea-level rise.

Kathy Lette, a novelist and TV personality, was part of a Sky News UK panel during royal celebrations on Saturday alongside Patrick Harrison, former press secretary to the King, and retired Olympic athlete, Dame Kelly Holmes.

The discussion had turned to the Commonwealth of nations and which countries want to become republics, removing King Charles as head of state.

Sky News presenter Anna Botting referenced Tuvalu as “one that wanted to stay (in the Commonwealth) the most”.

Ms Lette’s responded by saying: “Tuvalu - well they are about to go underwater.”

“Let’s hope not,” Ms Botting added.

But Ms Lette’s continued: “So, snorkels on!” before miming the diving device and a royal wave.

Tuvalu, a tiny island nation of 12,000 people midway between Australia and Hawaii, is one of the world’s most at-risk places from sea-level rise driven by the climate crisis.

At high tide, 40 per cent of Tuvalu’s capital district is underwater and the entire nation is projected to disappear beneath the ocean by the end of the century.

“How can anyone find humor in the potential loss of entire countries and cultures due to climate change? It’s beyond comprehension and completely unacceptable. We must call out this behavior and hold those responsible accountable for their ignorance,” tweeted Simon Kofe, Tuvalu’s Minister for Justice, Communication, and Foreign Affairs, in response to Ms Lette’s remarks.

Mr Kofe made an impassioned speech from Tuvalu, standing knee-deep in the ocean, during the Cop26 climate summit in November 2021 to highlight the country’s vulnerability to sea-level rise. “We are sinking, but so is everyone else,” he warned.

Ms Lette issued an apology following the remarks saying that she had not intended to cause offense.

“I am a committed environmentalist and horrified by climate change and the damage and devastation it inflicts on our poor planet,” Ms Lette said, in a statement emailed to The Independent.

“I’m so sorry if, during a live Sky broadcast in which I was supporting the King’s passion for conservation, a throw away comment I made about Tuvalu sinking, came across as glib or uncaring in any way. It was meant as a climate change warning as melting ice is jeapardising so many low lying countries, so please accept my apology for clumsy phrasing. The dangers of broadcasting live!”