The Duke of Sussex today embarked on his final round of engagements as a senior working royal as he launched a new eco-friendly travel firm in Edinburgh – and asked delegates ‘just to call him Harry’.
Prince Harry, who will step down as a senior royal in less than five weeks, is in the Scottish capital for a ‘working summit’ of the Travalyst partnership, which will feature a grading system for users to track their carbon emissions.
Before he took to the stage today, host Ayesha Hazarika, a former Labour adviser, said: ‘He’s made it clear that we are all just to call him Harry. So ladies and gentlemen, please give a big, warm, Scottish welcome to Harry.’
Harry flew to Britain from Canada on a commercial flight earlier this week and arrived in Edinburgh on an eco-friendly LNER train from London King’s Cross station last night, with taxpayer-funded Scotland Yard bodyguards.
The 35-year-old Duke, who is officially known as the Earl of Dumbarton when in Scotland, has been stung by criticism over the past six months of his frequent use of private jets while campaigning on environmental issues.
Harry’s flight to Britain this week was believed to have been the seventh flight the Queen’s grandson has taken so far this year – following return trips from Vancouver Island to London, Miami in Florida and Palo Alto in California.
He will visit the Abbey Road Studios in London on Friday to record a new song for his Invictus Games with rock star Jon Bon Jovi before being joined by his wife Meghan – and, possibly, the couple’s son Archie – early next week for five further official appearances.
MailOnline has asked the Sussex Royal team when Meghan will be returning to Britain before her next engagement on March 5, and whether the couple will be going to their UK home of Frogmore Cottage during their stay.
Prince William and Kate Middleton were at the theatre in London last night and will be on a royal tour in Ireland from March 3 to 5, but the ‘Fab Four’ – as William, Kate, Harry and Meghan were once known – are expected to join together with other royals at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey on March 9.
Elsewhere today, William met apprentices at a construction training centre in Nottinghamshire and Kate spoke to the families behind young sportsmen and women at a SportsAid event at the London Stadium.
At the Edinburgh International Conference Centre today, Harry said that the travel industry in Scotland was at the forefront of making the sector greener, saying it could set an example for the rest of the UK and world.
Speaking about the ‘call me Harry’ quote, host Ms Hazarika said: ‘When I was introduced to him I was a bit worried about what I should say, what were the right things, and he was no, very relaxed, and just [said] ‘Harry, just call me Harry’. And that’s very much the spirit of how he wanted it the event today.’
She confirmed that she was specifically asked to tell the audience this, saying: ‘Yes. I did say His Royal Highness Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, but he would like you to call him Harry. ‘
Asked if this was a nod to what is about to happen in him stepping down as a senior royal, Harry said: ‘Yes, I think so. I think that was a nod to that but wearing it lightly. He was not making a big deal about it.
‘That just to say ‘look, I want to move away from that pomp and circumstance and I’m here as someone who is very passionate about this topic’.
‘He doesn’t need a title. He is such a global figure now, he is recognisable all around the world. People know what he and his wife stand for, the causes they are passionate about. I think this is probably a nod to the future.’
She added: ‘They have very fierce critics but he isn’t going to be able to get the train from Canada and from what I’ve heard today, it’s very easy to pontificate from the sidelines and preach about what people should do but…..I think Prince Harry will have a difficult time whatever he tries to do.
‘He could get on a boat with Greta Thunberg and paddle around the world and he will still be slagged off for being so virtue signalling.
‘Whether we like it or not we all still fly….we are in a world where we are interconnected. But what he is doing today is bringing together the aviation industry and the tourism industry to say ‘how can we find some solutions’. Fair play to him.’
The launch of Travalyst last September was overshadowed by an ongoing controversy about the Sussexes’ luxury globe-trotting – including a mini break at Sir Elton John’s South of France mansion.
At the Edinburgh International Conference Centre today, Harry told guests: ‘We believe travel is a good thing. It is the heart of human experience, of cultural connections, and of new friendships.
‘It is a global powerhouse that employs hundreds of millions of people, keeping culture alive, protecting some of the world’s most precious spaces, and that introduces us to people, places and wildlife that we’ve only ever seen on a screen.’
He added: ‘It is predicted that tourism will reach over 1.8 billion travellers by 2030. If we do not act, and in large part get ahead of this inevitable surge, this massive increase will mean we see more of the world’s beautiful destinations closed or destroyed, more communities becoming overwhelmed, more beaches shut because of pollution, and animals and wildlife driven from their natural habitat, which has a huge impact on communities and reduces tourism opportunities. But we are here to find ways to make sure that does not happen.’
The Duke also said: ‘We have to work together… to scale up the good practices already being used around the world. Scotland is a great example of what we mean. There is a holistic ambition to Scotland’s intent that can be adopted across the UK and even around the world.