Private-jet loving Prince Harry flies back from Canada

Prince Harry is flying back to the UK to host a sustainable travel conference in his first visit to Britain since announcing he was quitting as a senior royal in January.

The Duke of Sussex will appear in Edinburgh tomorrow to host a summit for Travalyst, where he is expected to unveil a new holiday scheme with a ‘scoring system’ to help tourists pick environmentally-friendly flights.

Meghan Markle will appear in London with her husband for an awards ceremony for sick and injured military personnel on March 5, but it is unclear if she and baby Archie are flying over with Harry or are still in Canada.

The Duke of Sussex announces the Travalyst travel scheme in Amsterdam in September 2019

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex at Victoria International Airport in Canada on February 14

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex at Victoria International Airport in Canada on February 14

Harry wants the Travalyst project to ‘bring more transparency around carbon emissions for individual flights’ and make holidays as eco-friendly as possible.

His involvement was announced last year as the Sussexes were criticised for using private jets despite regularly flaunting their eco credentials. This included four trips in just 11 days in August.

Countdown to Megxit: Harry and Meghan’s final engagements

February 26: Travelyst conference in Edinburgh (Harry)  

February 28: Invictus Games choir (Harry) 

March 5: Endeavour Fund Awards (Harry and Meghan) 

March 6: Silverstone Experience (Harry) 

March 7: Mountbatten Music Festival (Harry and Meghan) 

March 8: International Women’s Day (Meghan)

March 9: Commonwealth Service (Harry and Meghan) 

The Duke and Duchess were also said to have flown into Florida for a JP Morgan conference in Miami on February 6 on the bank’s private jet from Vancouver.

In Edinburgh, Harry will host a summit with about 100 people from the tourism and travel industry to test out plans for scoring in accommodation, aviation and travel experiences.

The trip will be in addition to six other planned engagements the couple have in Britain over a two-week period as they prepare to step down as senior royals.

The palace has been asked whether Harry is already back in the UK and how he travelled from Canada.

Harry and Meghan are closing their Buckingham Palace office, making up to 15 members of staff redundant, but a small team will continue to work on Travalyst.

Former press officer James Holt and former assistant private secretary Heather Wong, a long-serving policy advisor to Harry, will both be on the staff.

The workers will be employed privately in London to mastermind the Travalyst initiative for Harry and will be operating separately from the Royal Household.

When Harry launched Travalyst in Amsterdam last September, he defended his repeated use of private jets, claiming he needs them for his family’s safety.

Harry and Meghan's travels this year and where they are expected to be going in March

Harry and Meghan’s travels this year and where they are expected to be going in March 

He had been accused of hypocrisy for using charter flights six times over the summer while urging the public to cut their carbon footprint.

Speaking at the event, he refused to apologise for private flights to Italy, France and Spain, saying: ‘I spend 99 per cent of my life travelling the world by commercial.

‘Occasionally there needs to be an opportunity [to fly privately] based on a unique circumstance to ensure that my family are safe – it’s as simple as that.

‘For me it’s about balance. It’s not a decision I would want to take, but if I have to do that, I will ensure that I balance out the impact that I have.’

Despite his comments, analysis at the time of Harry and Meghan’s known flights since their wedding in May 2018 showed six of the ten return trips they took were by private jet – 60 per cent of the total.

Harry dismissed concerns over his carbon footprint by insisting that he ‘offsets’ his emissions by donating to renewable energy incentives and planting trees.

Harry and Meghan's Instagram account made the announcement on Travalyst last September

Harry and Meghan’s Instagram account made the announcement on Travalyst last September

Sir Elton John said he did this on the prince’s behalf when he provided a private plane to fly him and Meghan to his home in the south of France last August.

The prince said: ‘I’ve always offset my CO2. What is offsetting CO2? So many people out there hear about it but don’t know about it. In my mind, it’s the right thing to do.

‘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.

‘The moment you have that connection, you feel like you have a bigger purpose in life, you can actually see the difference you are making.’

Harry added at the time: ‘I’ve learned that we cannot dismiss the idea of trying to do something, just because we can’t do everything. We can all do better. And while no one is perfect, we are all responsible for our own individual impact.’

One trip last July saw the sixth in line to the throne fly on a private jet to Sicily to deliver a speech at ‘Google Camp’.

Harry and wife Meghan faced criticism last August after taking four private jet journeys in 11 days, rather than opting for commercial flights, despite speaking out on environmental issues

Harry and wife Meghan faced criticism last August after taking four private jet journeys in 11 days, rather than opting for commercial flights, despite speaking out on environmental issues

What is the Travalyst initiative and why has it been launched? 

Travalyst is a global project to encourage the tourism industry to become more sustainable and make eco-choices simpler for travellers.

Prince Harry has spent three years working on the initiative which he hopes will improve conservation, environmental protection and help increase the economic benefits of tourism for local communities.

The Duke of Sussex 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.

The long-term initiative is focused on tackling the travel industry’s impact on climate change, improving wildlife conservation, and protecting the environment in top tourist spots around the world.

The Duke has said on Instagram that the name is a mixture of the words ‘travel’ and ‘catalyst’, adding that it comes from ‘viewing our role in sustainable travel as catalysts to accelerate positive changes in travel’. 

He added: ‘#Travalyst aims to make travel more sustainable, to help protect destinations and benefit communities long into the future, and to enable consumers to make more environmental friendly choices whilst traveling.’ 

It aims to increase the amount of tourism money that goes to local communities, and find answers to over-tourism.

In 2018, the number of international trips taken globally reached 1.4 billion, a number reached two years faster than originally projected by the United Nations’ tourism agency, the World Tourism Organization.

According to the World Bank, the number of trips taken annually by people around the globe has more than doubled since 2000.

Travel and tourism fed $8.8 trillion into the global economy in 2018, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.

In 10 years, the number of tourists visiting countries in emerging markets will reach 1 billion annually, comprising 57 percent of all international trips, the UN agency said.

Sunshine Sachs, a US public relations firm, has been assisting the palace press office with the project, liaising with US media and the American-based firms who are part of the scheme. 

He also took holidays to Ibiza and Nice last August with his wife and son that produced 82 tons of CO2. That is the equivalent of the emissions from 17 cars over a whole year.

Sir Elton and other celebrities weighed in to defend the royal couple at the time, saying private jets were their best option in terms of privacy and security.

However, the same month saw the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge photographed flying with their children on a budget flight from Norfolk to Scotland.

The Sussexes also made several transatlantic crossings between Canada in the UK in January at an expected cost of £250,000. 

Decisions about the most effective, economical and safe way to travel are taken by a royal visits committee.

But figures from accounts published last June show the royal household’s carbon emissions due to business travel almost doubled in 2018.

An aide said last September that Harry had merely been using a figure of speech when he cited the ’99 per cent’ figure.

Sources also stressed the list of flights analysed ‘wasn’t exhaustive’ and some ‘undocumented’ private travel would have been taken commercially.

Harry’s Travalyst project has brought together some of the biggest names in the industry – Booking.com, Ctrip, Skyscanner, TripAdvisor and Visa – and aims to make the future of travel more sustainable.

The number of global trips has more than doubled since 2008 and is expected to reach 1.8billion by 2030.

During his visit to the UK next month, Harry will be teaming up with Jon Bon Jovi to make a charity record with proceeds going towards the Duke’s Invictus Games Foundation.

Harry will attend the recording of Unbroken at Abbey Road Studios in north-west London on February 28.

He and wife Meghan are expected to attend the Invictus Games in The Hague in May – after their post-royal life begins on March 31.

Bon Jovi wrote Unbroken to highlight the plight of veterans living with post-traumatic stress disorder. Both his parents served in the US Marine Corps.

Harry will watch the choir perform with Bon Jovi. If he could be persuaded to sing, he would be following in the footsteps of his older brother. 

The Duke of Sussex (left) speaks to a panel at the event in Amsterdam last September including Booking.com chair Gillian Tans, SkyScanner chief Bryan Dove, Ctrip boss Jane Sun, TripAdvisor hotels president Kanika Soni and Suzan Kereere, Visa's chief of merchant sales

The Duke of Sussex (left) speaks to a panel at the event in Amsterdam last September including Booking.com chair Gillian Tans, SkyScanner chief Bryan Dove, Ctrip boss Jane Sun, TripAdvisor hotels president Kanika Soni and Suzan Kereere, Visa’s chief of merchant sales

Harry will host a summit with about 100 people from the tourism and travel industry to test out plans for scoring in accommodation, aviation and travel experiences.

The trip will be in addition to six other planned engagements the couple have in Britain over a two-week period as they prepare to step down as senior royals.

The palace has been asked whether Harry is already back in the UK and how he travelled from Canada.           

The countdown to Megxit: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle last six engagements – including joining the Queen on Commonwealth Day – before their time as working royals ends on March 31

By Mark Duell for MailOnline 



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