Prince Harry had taken part in a charity polo match, his first public appearance since welcoming his daughter Lilibet in June. He flew home on a 20-seater Gulfstream jet reportedly belonging to one of his polo friends, businessman Marc Ganzi.
Harry, who is outspoken about the impact of the climate crisis and previously described it as one of the “most pressing issues we are facing”, was dubbed a “hypocrite” by royal commentators and members of the public on social media.
According to a report by Transport & Environment, a single private jet can emit as much as two tonnes of carbon dioxide in just one hour. Private jets are up to 14 times more polluting than commercial planes per passenger, but are twice as likely to be used for short trips under 500km (approximately 310 miles).
In May, the duke warned that mental health and climate change were linked and told Oprah Winfrey: “I know lots of people out there are doing as best they can to try and fix these issues, but that whole sort of analogy of walking into the bathroom with a mop when the bath is over-flooding, rather than just turning the tap off.
“Are we supposed to accept that these problems are just going to grow and grow and grow, and then we’re going to have to adapt to them and build resilience amongst the next generation and the next generation and the next generation?
“Or is there really a moment, a reckoning moment, post-Covid, where we can actually look at each other, look at ourselves and go, ‘We need to do better about stopping or allowing the things that are causing so much harm to so many of us at the source, rather than being distracted by the symptom.”
But despite his calls for more action on climate change, Harry has attracted criticism before for using private jets while advocating more environmentally-aware travel.
Royal author Tom Quinn told The Sun that the duke’s use of a private jet this weekend “appears to be enormously hypocritical”.
“Harry seems to see himself as someone who guides the rest of the world and that his own behaviour isn’t relevant,” said Quinn. “It is a huge blind spot.
In 2019, Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, came under fire after taking a private plane to visit Sir Elton John at his home in Nice. The singer defended the couple and said he had provided them with the flight and paid to offset carbon emissions produced from their trip.
Following the incident, Harry launched his eco-tourism project, Travalyst, in Amsterdam, which encourages the tourism industry to become more sustainable.
When asked about his own use of private jets, Harry said: “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.”
The duke added that he has always offset his carbon emissions and will continue to do so. He said: “In my mind it’s the right thing to do and we need to make it cool. We have to connect people to where that little bit of extra money is actually going.”
The Independent has contacted Harry’s representatives for comment.