Prince Harry has defended his use of private jets at the launch of his new sustainable travel initiative in Amsterdam, saying sometimes private flights are necessary to ensure his family’s safety.
The royal’s new initiative, called Travalyst, will see him partner with major travel companies, such as Booking.com, TripAdvisor and Visa, to “explore and promote” ways to make travel more sustainable.
But its launch comes just weeks after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were accused of hypocrisy for taking four gas-guzzling private jet flights in just 11 days, while encouraging others to do their bit for the environment.
“I spend 99 per cent of my life travelling the world by commercial,” Prince Harry told reporters following the official launch on Tuesday.
“Occasionally there needs to be an opportunity based on a unique circumstance to ensure my family are safe. It’s genuinely as simple as that.
“What is it is about balance. If I have to do that — it’s not a decision that I would want to take — but if I have to do that then I would ensure, as I have done previously and I will continue to make sure that I do, is to balance out that impact that I have. I have always offset my CO2,” he said.
WATCH: “I spend 99% of my life travelling the world by commercial [aircraft]” Prince Harry says at the end of the ecotourism launch when asked about his own travel behaviour. He adds he always offsets all his travel ✈️ pic.twitter.com/1xXvBiXsC4
— Chris Ship (@chrisshipitv)
Harry and Meghan recently took a private flight to Elton John’s luxurious $27 million home in Nice.
John said he paid for the flight to ensure the couple’s “much-needed protection” and made sure the flight was carbon neutral.
The couple also reportedly chartered a private plane to Ibiza for the Duchess of Sussex’s birthday celebrations, while Prince Harry is also said to have flown by helicopter to speak at a Google Summer Camp in Italy about the effects of climate change.
The frequent travel alongside their environmental campaigning has seen the couple accused of hypocrisy. Safety concerns were also undermined by pictures showing the Cambridge family taking a recent budget commercial flight to Balmoral in Scotland for their summer holiday.
But Prince Harry admitted at the launch that no-one was perfect and everybody was responsible for their own individual impact on the environment.
“As travellers we often don’t see the long-term impact we have on a destination, unless perhaps we revisit the same areas regularly,” he said.
“After seeing and experiencing the degradation of a few of my favourite places, where natural assets are depleted and communities left feeling defeated, I knew something had to be done.”
The royal also spoke briefly about his new life as a dad at the launch, joking that he’d just had the best sleep in four months.
“Having spent last night here — I don’t know about you guys but it was definitely the best nights’ sleep I’ve had for the last 4 months!” he quipped.
Harry and Meghan’s son Archie was born in May. The couple have suffered intense criticism for their decision to keep the christening private after receiving a taxpayer-funded renovation to their Frogmore cottage home.
WHAT WILL TRAVALYST ACTUALLY DO?
It’s not yet clear how exactly Travalyst will work, but Prince Harry said he’d been working on the project for two years and there would be much more to come.
“Over the next few years, the members of Travalyst will work together to create incentives for organisations and destinations to do right by the places, spaces, and animals we all need to protect — at the same time, they’ll be making consumers aware of more ‘off-the-beaten-track’ places to share the impact as well as the benefits with local communities,” he said.
There’s no doubting the ambition of Travalyst, the global sustainable travel partnership launched today by Prince Harry. We’re told it’s been two years in the making and we’re promised more info on concrete proposals within 18 months. @travalyst #travel #tourism #sustainabikity pic.twitter.com/mKEfRCGqDo
— Lee Hayhurst (@leehayhurst)
The scheme was widely praised on social media, though British broadcaster Piers Morgan scoffed at the irony on Twitter.
Prince Harry preaching about the environment again. He can do this, or be a constant private-jet-setting celebrity. Not both. pic.twitter.com/lsTToXcfLf
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan)
Others also questioned why Prince Harry would agree to take so many private flights in the month before the launch.
I cannot believe Prince Harry knew he was launching this thing at the beginning of September but stepped all over it with his private jet usage just Last month. Did he think he wouldn’t get papped? Everything out of his mouth today will be viewed as a colossal JOKE! #travalyst
— Ritzygal (@Ritzygal2020)