Inge Solheim, the polar explorer who organized the controversial ski-trip to a lavish Kazakhstani resort attended by Prince Harry and Cressida Bonas, has defended the trip as an opportunity for the 'young lovers' to spend some time 'chilling out' together and denied he used his 'dear friend' Prince Harry for publicity.
Mr Solheim was moved to give an interview in his defense to the Daily Telegraph after a series of increasingly angry tweets to British Royal correspondent Rebecca English of the Daily Mail which broke much of the detail of the story yesterday, including the crucial fact that that the jolly was paid for by by a close associate of President Nursultan Nazarbaev, Burak Oymen, a Turkish-born property developer.
The Mail further claimed that Oymen sent a private jet to London to collect Harry and Cressida, and Solheim appeared to confirm that allegation, saying that Oymen paid for the trip "because he can, and it meant we can travel more efficiently."
Solheim told the Telegraph: “The coverage of this holiday has been inaccurate, speculative and disappointing. This is a young couple, Harry and Cressie, two friends of mine, whose intentions, wholly innocent, are being questioned by people with no knowledge of the facts.
“Harry is a dear friend and if I can facilitate a visit during which he and Cressie can spend some time in private, as young lovers want to, it’s beautiful. Then it is ruined by a trashy press. The pressure Cressida is under, dealing with this kind of publicity, is absolutely terrible for a young girl in love."
Mr Solheim defended the Prince against the allegation of misjudgement in lending his image to a country with such dubious credentials.
“Harry was on a private holiday,” he said. “He was in no way endorsing Kazakhstan’s record on human rights. If David Cameron pays an official visit to Kazakhstan is he endorsing that country’s human rights record? No. So are you telling me that Harry was doing so on a private trip?
“I have a human rights record that is impeccable. I’ve been banned from China because of my protests against the Chinese invasion of Tibet. I’ve received death threats for speaking out against certain other countries. I don’t believe you are going to bring Kazakhstan up in the world by isolating its people.”