THE Duke of Sussex has defended his use of private planes, saying he spends ‘99 per cent of my life’ using commercial flights but occasionally needs to ensure ‘my family are safe’.
Harry spoke about his decision to use exclusive jets as he launched an ambitious global project to encourage the tourism industry to become more sustainable and make eco-choices simpler for travellers.
The duke and his wife have faced mounting criticism after reportedly taking four private jet journeys in 11 days during the summer, apparently at odds with their views on supporting the environment.
During a question-and-answer session at the end of the launch of Travalyst, which features leading online travel firms, Harry was asked how he made his way to Amsterdam for the event and if he was changing his travel behaviour.
He replied: ‘I came here by commercial, I spend 99 per cent of my life travelling the world by commercial, occasionally there needs to be an opportunity based on a unique circumstance to ensure that my family are safe — it’s generally as simple as that.’
One of the trips taken by Harry, Meghan and baby son Archie was in a private jet loaned by Sir Elton John, who said he wanted to ‘maintain a high level of much-needed protection’ for the Sussexes.
In a speech to outline the Travalyst project, the duke spoke about his impact on the environment, saying ‘no one is perfect’ but what is important is ‘what we do to balance’ out negative effects.
He added: ‘I’ve always offset my CO2, I think part of the group discussion we had earlier was “what is offsetting CO2?”
‘There are so many people out there that hear about it, don’t know about it. In my mind it’s the right thing to do and we need to make it cool, but it can’t just be a ticking-the-box exercise.
‘Somehow we have to connect people to where that little bit of extra money is actually going and the moment you have that connection you feel you have a bigger purpose in life, and you can actually see the difference you’re making, and I think that’s acceptable.’
Harry has spent three years working on the Travalyst initiative which he hopes will improve conservation, environmental protection and help increase the economic benefits of tourism for local communities.
The duke and the co-founders of the project — Booking.com, Ctrip, Skyscanner, TripAdvisor and Visa — want to spark a movement of like-minded companies and organisations to make the future of travel more sustainable.