Jet-setting Prince launches green travel firm

Pilot error: Harry preaching the conservation gospel (after taking a jet to the event).

Has he lost his way? Prince Harry, once the nation’s darling, is under attack from all sides. His supposed crimes: demanding celebrity treatment in public and, worse, rank eco-hypocrisy.

“Prince Harry preaching about the environment again. He can do this, or be a constant private-jet-setting celebrity. Not both,” sniped broadcaster Piers Morgan.

Morgan may be famed for his attacks on public figures, but he wasn’t alone in pointing out the unfortunate timing of the Prince’s new environmental initiative.

The Duke of Sussex was in Amsterdam on Tuesday to launch Travalyst, a project to encourage sustainable tourism, just as a media storm over Harry and his wife Meghan’s repeated use of private jets was dying down.

In August, the Sussexes used private jets to travel to Nice and Ibiza for two family holidays, including a trip to Elton John’s villa on the French Riviera. The four flights, taken within 11 days, produced around 20 tons of CO2, which is three times the annual carbon footprint of the average Briton.

Pressed on the issue by journalists, Harry insisted that he flies commercial 99% of the time, but must occasionally use jets “to ensure that [his] family is safe”.

Rather than defuse the row, the Prince’s defiance has only amplified his critics’ voices. In The Daily Mail, yesterday, Richard Kay accused Harry of “loftily” preaching about climate crisis from “the pulpit”, while enjoying a jet-setting, celebrity lifestyle.

“You would never catch the Queen lecturing people on how to live their lives,” he wrote. “It would serve Harry and Meghan well if they follow suit.”

The controversy characterises the Sussexes’ difficult relationship with the media. Just this year, they have attracted ire for refusing to publicly name their son Archie’s godparents, and for the £2.4 million in public money spent on refurbishing their new Windsor home.

To combat the negative attention, the couple is enlisting American PR firm Sunshine Sachs that, according to Kay, “prides itself on its aggressive dealings with the media”. Rather than quieting down, Harry and Meghan appear to be gearing up for battle.

For a long time, Harry was the public’s favourite royal, maturing from a bereaved child into a likeable, down-to-earth young man with a rebellious streak. Now, that goodwill seems to be wearing thin. Has he lost his way?

The people’s Prince?

It is one rule for him and one rule for us, say some. If the Prince insists on speaking out on climate crisis, he must live by his principles. It is not good enough to “off-set” his footprint by throwing some money at green causes. Harry is trying to straddle the line that divides flashy celebrity from the sober, royal life of public duty — and he is failing.

But isn’t he in an impossible position? The press is enraged that he won’t play ball, and seems desperate to vilify Meghan at any opportunity. There is no blue-print for a young, modern royal trying to connect with the public and drive real change. If he were silent and stuffy, he’d still face criticism. He is damned either way.

You Decide

  1. Would you give up flights to save the environment?
  2. Is it fair to call Prince Harry a hypocrite?

Activities

  1. Choose a controversial member of the royal family from British history, and make a timeline showing the important events of their life.
  2. Using The Guardian article on Travalyst, write a one-page travel leaflet promoting sustainable travel. You can include other research, along with your own ideas and diagrams.

Some People Say...

“You can’t live on this planet without being a hypocrite.”

Paul Watson, Canadian environmental activist

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, travelled with their son Archie to Nice and Ibiza on family holidays in August. These flights alone produced around 20 tons of CO2, which is three times the annual carbon footprint of the average Briton. However, Harry says that he has off-set the carbon from these flights by donating money to renewable energy incentives and planting trees.
What do we not know?
If the media is justified in its criticisms of Harry and Meghan. There seems to be a large divide in opinion between those who believe that the couple are abusing their privileges and those who think they are being treated unfairly, and are possibly the victims of racially-motivated hostility towards the Duchess.

Word Watch

Duke of Sussex
On the morning of Prince Harry’s wedding, he was given the Dukedom of Sussex by the Queen.
French Riviera
The Mediterranean coastline on the south-east corner of France, famed for its luxury beach resorts.
CO2
Carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to the climate crisis by trapping heat in the atmosphere.
Pulpit
A platform in a church from which a preacher delivers a sermon.
Streak
Prince Harry attracted some controversy in his youth for his wayward behaviour on a trip to Las Vegas, and for wearing a Nazi costume to a fancy dress party.
Vilify
Shortly after they started dating, Prince Harry released a statement hitting back at press attacks on Meghan, which he alleged were racially-motivated.

Subjects

PDF Download

Please click on "Print view" at the top of the page to see a print friendly version of the article.