RICHARD KAY advises Prince Harry: When you’re in a hole, stop digging

RICHARD KAY: The advice Prince Harry REALLY needs – when you’re in a hole, stop digging

Prince Harry (pictured arriving at an environmentally-friendly tourism event in Amsterdam today) defended his repeated use of private jets yesterday, claiming he needs them for his family’s safety

Not everyone understands climate change, the issues are complex and challenging. But people can recognise hypocrisy when they see it.

Yesterday Prince Harry was in Amsterdam making the keynote speech at a conference to launch a sustainable travel initiative. He could have got there by train – there are ten departures a day to the Dutch city from London St Pancras – but he chose to fly.

He also took the opportunity to justify his newly acquired habit of taking private jets, saying that he did so to ‘ensure my family is safe’. In what sounded like a carefully-scripted mea culpa, the prince said ‘no one is perfect’ and insisted he mostly uses commercial flights.

Last month he and the Duchess of Sussex were pilloried for apparently flying four times in 11 days on private jets, despite regularly preaching to the rest of us on the dangers of global warming and other threats to the environment.

There is an adage that if you are in a hole, stop digging. It is an approach that has served many a public figure well over the years. Harry, however, chose to ignore this time-honoured piece of advice. Instead he justified his travel arrangements thus:

‘We could all do better,’ he 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 unique circumstance to ensure that my family is safe.’

Of course it is entirely right that Harry should put the personal safety of Meghan and son Archie above any other consideration. But among those close to the Royal Family there is a growing belief that these special circumstances often seem to be motivated by a desire, above all, for privacy.


It is worth pointing out that the Queen regularly takes the train to Sandringham, and that airlines such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic with their special services division tailored for royals and VIPs were always good enough for Harry’s mother Princess Diana. She travelled extensively and her private life was under far more scrutiny than Harry and his wife have so far had to endure.

Instead of conceding that he just might have been wrong in joining the private jet elite, Harry loftily defended it by saying that he ‘balances out’ the impact he has on the environment and ‘will continue to do so’, adding: ‘I’ve always offset my CO2.’

With that it was back to the pulpit. ‘Sometimes the scale of the conservation crisis feels overwhelming and that individual actions can’t make a difference,’ he declared at the unveiling of Travalyst, a project aimed at improving conservation and environmental protection.

Meghan cradles her son Archie as they get off a private jet at Nice Airport in France last month

Prince Harry gets on board a private jet in Nice last month following a visit to see Sir Elton John

‘I’ve certainly felt that – but 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.’

All very well, but for royals – for whom perception is as important as any message – timing is everything. And after the criticism heaped on the royal couple over both their travel and the vast sums of public money lavished on their new home in Windsor, the attention is not just on them but those around them, their advisors.

Yesterday, just as Harry was preparing to get on his feet it emerged that in addition to their Buckingham Palace team of PRs, they have hired a leading team of Hollywood publicists, who specialise in crisis management. The firm, Sunshine Sachs, which prides itself on its aggressive dealings with the media, once represented disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and the estate of the late Michael Jackson.

It has a record of using underhand tactics to polish the reputation of clients. Four years ago an executive admitted it employed staff to edit the Wikipedia pages of clients to weed out negative comments.

Ostensibly the company has been brought in to handle the launch of the couple’s charitable foundation in the US. But even though the Mail understands it will be taking a close interest in all of the Sussex Royals’ foundation globally, including in the UK, the appointment adds to speculation that the pair plan to focus a significant part of their professional and personal lives on America.

Pictures have emerged showing the luxury interior of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Cessna private jet, pictured

The images show how the Royals travel in style with plush seats, water bottles waiting for them on trays, television monitors and spacious bathrooms big enough to change clothes in

No wonder seasoned royal aides are anxiously wondering just what Harry and Meghan’s direction of travel is.

Since cutting ties with Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge earlier this year, Harry and Meghan have established their own household at Buckingham Palace where their communications strategy is run by another American, Sara Latham. She worked on Hillary Clinton’s ill-fated presidential election campaign and for Bill Clinton at the White House.

Will Sunshine Sachs, which first worked for Meghan after she began dating Harry, report to Miss Latham? Or will it operate independently?

Courtiers are baffled, but on one thing they are agreed: the arrival of this latest addition to the Sussex team suggests that Harry and Meghan are approaching something of a crossroads in the kind of official role they want to occupy.

Will it be one of uncomplaining, dutiful working royals or private jet-flying celebrities?

‘If it was the new team’s idea for Harry to offer up an explanation for their use of private jets, it wasn’t a very good one,’ says one veteran palace aide. ‘There is a reason why royals have stuck to the mantra ‘‘never complain, never explain’’.

‘It just throws up more questions – look at the mess Prince Andrew is in. Now people want to know what precisely Harry has done to offset his carbon footprint, has he been planting trees and if so how many and where?’

It is unknown whether Meghan Markle and Prince Harry would have enjoyed exactly the same food as this pictured, but the images show how guests on the private plane are offered fine cuisine rather than standard aeroplane food

Another figure, who knows the Queen well, says: ‘They may think they’re on to something by giving Harry this informal makeover of open-neck shirt and casual style but you would never catch the Queen lecturing people on how to live their lives. She has spent her entire reign being cautious about her public utterances. It would serve Harry and Meghan well if they follow suit.’

At the time of their wedding last year, the couple were among the most popular members of the Royal Family. But thanks to a series of PR setbacks – from the extravagance over their new home, the fall-out with William and Kate and their chumminess with a super-rich global jet-set – they are coming ever closer to squandering that public approval.

Later this month the couple will be on their travels again, this time to southern Africa. Baby Archie will be going too and the trip will doubtless be a photographic success.

While Meghan and Archie will remain in Cape Town, Prince Harry will pay solo visits to Angola, Malawi and Botswana. These countries connect to the prince’s conservation passions as well as to the charitable interests of his late mother, such as Aids, poverty and, of course, landmines.

Although Angola has long been empty of munitions, he wants to go to the minefield in the country where his mother was famously pictured just a few months before her death.

This will be the kind of traditional royal engagement, far removed from tax-avoiding Google’s celebrity-infested £16million knees up in Sicily last month where a barefoot Harry was a feted participant. Surely even the couple’s new super slick American PR honchos will see the virtue in it. 

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