Prince Harry flew into fresh controversy Tuesday as he sought to address accusations of hypocrisy that have dogged him and wife Meghan Markle this summer over their use of private jets, saying that he only flies private when there are security concerns.
After admitting that his travel habits were “not perfect” as he launched a major tourism-sustainability drive today, Harry said in a panel discussion: “I came here by commercial. I spend 99 percent of my life traveling the world by commercial. Occasionally there needs to be an opportunity based on a unique circumstance to ensure that my family are safe.”
His comments followed a summer of controversy after it emerged that he and Meghan had taken four private jets in the space of 11 days to cruise between London, a super-premium villa in Ibiza, and Elton John’s fabulous home in the south of France.
Days before news of the private flights leaked out, Harry, in the course of a lengthy interview with Vogue, had fretted about global warming and pledged to only have two children for environmental reasons.
Today, the Duke of Sussex wisely flew to Amsterdam on a commercial flight to launch the Travalyst initiative, which seeks to encourage more responsible tourism. However, critics immediately said the new initiative had been torpedoed by the lingering private-jet controversy.
Meghan and Harry’s arch foe Piers Morgan immediately hit out as the prince launched the initiative, writing on Twitter: “Prince Harry preaching about the environment again. He can do this, or be a constant private-jet-setting celebrity. Not both.”
During his speech, Harry said: “We could all do better. While no one is perfect, we all have a responsibility for our own individual impact. The question is what we do to balance it out.”
Harry said: “Sometimes the scale of the conservation crisis feels overwhelming and that individual actions can’t make a difference. I’ve certainly felt that, but I’ve learned that we cannot dismiss the idea of trying to do something, just because we can’t do everything.”
The new initiative is backed by Booking.com, Sky Scanner, TripAdvisor, and Visa (although not their preferred PJ provider, NetJets).
The timing for the launch of the initiative, which has been two years in the making, seems a curious PR decision, given that Harry was clearly setting himself up to be roasted over allegations of eco-hypocrisy once again.
By coincidence, it emerged today that Meghan is so unhappy with the palace PR operation that she has hired a celebrity crisis-management firm, whose former clients include Harvey Weinstein and Michael Jackson.
According to the Daily Mail, Meghan has hired veteran publicist Ken Sunshine’s firm, Sunshine Sachs, to rebuild her image.
A royal insider told the Mail: “Hiring a Hollywood firm to represent you for PR while a member of the royal family is unorthodox to say the least.
“Senior palace courtiers have been left bemused over the last few months that the couple have been ignoring advice from their own highly professional team and will instead listen to outsiders in Hollywood.”