Prince Harry defended his use of private jets on Tuesday ― ironically during his launch of a sustainable travel initiative intended to transform the travel industry into a “catalyst for good.”
The Duke of Sussex told a crowd in Amsterdam that he and Meghan Markle, who have been criticized for promoting conservation while taking private flights for vacations, choose their transportation based on safety.
“I came here by commercial,” Harry said during the initiative, called Travalyst, that aims to bring consumers, companies and communities together. “I spend 99% of my life traveling the world by commercial. 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.”
The royal couple have been under fire for reportedly taking four private flights in 11 days for vacations in France and Spain. The carbon footprint for private travel is far bigger than for commercial, which critics say contradicts the couple’s promotion of conservation causes.
When he does fly aboard a private jet, Harry said he makes sure to “always offset my CO2.” He added that doing so “can’t just be a ticking the box exercise” and is the “right thing to do and we need to make it cool.”
“We can all do better and while no one is perfect, we all have a responsibility for our own individual impact,” Harry said, according to People. “The question is what we do to balance it out.”
Superstar Elton John has previously defended Harry, his longtime friend, for traveling about a private jet with the duchess for a stay at the singer’s Nice home. He said he provided the plane to give the couple a “high level of much-needed protection” and ensured that the flight was carbon-neutral.
“I feel a profound sense of obligation to protect Harry and his family from the unnecessary press intrusion that contributed to Diana’s untimely death,” John wrote in a long thread on Twitter, decrying the “distorted and malicious” coverage of the trip.
Singer Pink and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres also stood up for the royal couple, and “The Good Place” actor Jameela Jamil accused the U.K. press of racism.
“Dear England and English press, just say you hate her because she’s black, and him for marrying a black woman and be done with it,” Jamil wrote, before explaining why the couple needs to fly private.
“And ALSO, it’s not safe for us to be on the same planes as royals or presidents you absolute muppets,” Jamil noted. “They are prime targets for kidnap and sometimes assassination. It’s in the interest of us civilians to not be endangered by proximity to people in such powerful positions.”