After sparking a flood of backlash, Prince Harry broke his silence on his and Meghan Markle's reported use of private jets despite their negative impact on the environment.
"I spend 99 per cent of my life travelling the world by commercial [flights]," the 34-year-old Duke of Sussex said during a speech in Amsterdam on Tuesday to promote Travalyst, a new travel sustainability initiative.
"Occasionally there needs to be an opportunity based on a unique circumstance to ensure my family are safe and it’s genuinely as simple as that.”
Harry launched the new program, which will help tourists make more environmentally-friendly decisions as they travel (carbon offsetting tips, ways to support the local community, etc.), Harper's Bazaar reported today.
According to the outlet's royal reporter Omid Scobie, Harry worked for more than two years on this program with Booking.com, Skyscanner, CTrip, TripAdvisor, and Visa.
"Travel has the unparalleled power to open people’s minds to different cultures, new experiences, and to have a profound appreciation for what our world has to offer," Harry said in a statement on the program.
"As tourism inevitably grows, it is critically important to accelerate the adoption of sustainable practices worldwide and to balance this growth with the needs of the environment and the local population. Bringing companies, consumers, and communities together is our best chance to protect destinations and ecosystems for future generations."
During his appearance in Amsterdam, Harry explained why he and Meghan Markle took private jets for their two vacations this summer.
Their decision sparked controversy in the British press, despite the fact that other royal family members, including Kate Middleton, Prince William, Prince Andrew, and more, also sometimes take private jets when travelling.
“We can all do better and while no one is perfect, we all have a responsibility for our own individual impact,” Harry said, via People. “The question is what we do to balance it out.”
According to People, Harry told a story about a 2012 interaction in the Caribbean that spurred his support for the environment.
“I had a 7-year-old come up to me, tug my shirt, and say with such conviction: ‘Because of your country, my country’s coral reef is dying,’” he said.
“This boy, despite his age, had touched on a powerful truth. He already understood that the environmental damage caused to the reef was created by the actions of people outside of his country. And he was absolutely spot on.”
But his trip to Amsterdam to announce Travalyst wasn’t all business.
Harry mentioned that he spent Monday night in the city without his wife and son, Archie. “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 four months!” he joked.