It’s been a few weeks since Prince Harry and his wife Meghan copped heavy criticism for taking two private jet trips in one week, but the father-of-one has finally hit back. Speaking at the launch of his new sustainable travel initiative in Amsterdam on Tuesday, Prince Harry defended his use of private jets, saying sometimes private flights are necessary to ensure his family’s safety.
“I came here by commercial. I spend 99 per cent of my life traveling the world by commercial,” he told reporters at the launch, according to multiple reports. “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’s new initiative, called Travalyst, has been “created to mobilise the travel industry as a catalyst for good, aiming to transform the future of travel for everyone” and will see him partner with major travel companies, such as Booking.com, TripAdvisor and Visa.
The project announcement comes after Meghan and Harry, who have been at the wrong end of public criticism in recent months, faced backlash from severals popular tabloids for using private jets for trips with their new son Archie last month. However, singer and their good friend Elton John defended the couple at the time.
Posting on Twitter, Elton revealed he, not taxpayers paid for their trip to Nice in the south of France and compared the backlash to the “press intrusion” which led to Princess Diana’s “untimely death”. “I am deeply distressed by today’s distorted and malicious account in the press surrounding the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s private stay at my home in Nice last week,” he wrote.
“Prince Harry’s Mother, Diana Princess Of Wales was one of my dearest friends. 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,” he added. “After a hectic year continuing their hard work and dedication to charity, David and I wanted the young family to have a private holiday inside the safety and tranquillity of our home.”
Elton said he provided the private jet due to the “high level of much-needed protection” and paid for the flight to be carbon offset “to support Prince Harry’s commitment to the environment”. “To support Prince Harry’s commitment to the environment, we ensured their flight was carbon neutral,” he added. “I highly respect and applaud both Harry and Meghan’s commitment to charity and I’m calling on the press to cease these relentless and untrue assassinations on their character that are spuriously crafted on an almost daily basis.”
Harry has enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years having put his partying days behind him to focus his efforts on environmental affairs and mental health advocacy. However, in recent months Meghan and Harry have been at the wrong end of public criticism. The couple faced backlash earlier this year for keeping details of son Archie’s birth and christening private.
The decision to remain private about the baby’s christening is a stark difference to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge who invited the media to the christening of all three of their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis. The doting parents were also photographed outside of the hospital where the children were born shortly after their arrival — a royal tradition Prince Harry and Meghan also broke.