Prince Harry today embarked on his last round of engagements as a senior working royal as he launches a new eco-friendly travel firm with a grading system for users to track their carbon emissions.
The Duke of Sussex, who will step down as a senior royal in less than five weeks, is in Edinburgh for a ‘working summit’ of the new travel partnership, Travalyst, after jetting into the UK from his new home in Canada.
The 35-year-old will return to London later today where will visit the world famous Abbey Road Studios on Friday to record a new song for his Invictus Games with none other than rock star Jon Bon Jovi.
Harry arrived in the Scottish capital by train last night after being stung by criticism of his frequent use of private jets while campaigning on environmental issues and climate change.
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.
The Duke of Sussex smiles during the sustainable tourism summit at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre today
The Duke of Sussex speaks to guests at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre for the Travalyst launch this morning
Harry is in Edinburgh today for a ‘working summit’ of the new travel partnership, Travalyst, after jetting into the UK
Harry arrived at Edinburgh’s Waverley Station on the 6.22pm service from London’s King Cross yesteday, looking less than pleased to see waiting photographers.
Fortunately for him, LNER, the train company which operates the route to Scotland route, says its new trains are among the lowest carbon options for travel between London and Edinburgh.
Travalyst has brought together some of the biggest operators in the travel industry – including Visa, Booking.com and Skyscanner – to help travellers pick low carbon options more easily and chose destinations that will have more benefit to local communities.
Today’s working summit, involving 100 representatives from the Scottish tourist industry, is designed to test some of the consortium’s early plans.
It is the first time he will have been seen officially in the UK since mid January, when he attended a Rugby World Cup event at Buckingham Palace.
And it will also be his first public appearance since he and Meghan posted an extraordinary statement on their personal website on Friday night, hitting out at the Royal Family and attacking the decision to block them from using their Sussex Royal branding after stepping back from public life.
Prince Harry arrives at Edinburgh Waverley train station last night ahead of his Travalyst engagements in the city this morning
Prince Harry is seen carrying his own suit through Edinburgh Waverley yesterday (left) after arriving with his team (right)
Prince Harry is pictured at the train station in Edinburgh yesterday evening ahead of his talk today
The car above carted Prince Harry away yesterday evening and the road was busy with local traffic
Prince Harry was pictured arriving in Edinburgh last night at Waverley train station wearing a black jacket and a cap
The couple had privately fought the move, it is understood, which has come as a blow to their future business plans.
Countdown to Megxit: Harry and Meghan’s final seven 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 Festival (Harry and Meghan)
March 8: International Women’s Day (Meghan)
March 9: Commonwealth Service (Harry and Meghan)
Only last month they launched their new sussexroyal.com website, as well as registering their new charitable Foundation under the name ‘SussexRoyal’.
In what has widely been seen as a bitter and ‘childish’ rant about their departure, the couple said they wanted to ‘clarify’ the terms of their exit before their official departure on March 31.
They claimed the Queen and the British government had no ‘jurisdiction’ of the use of the word ‘Royal’ overseas, even though in Canada the Queen is the Head of State.
Today’s travel industry summit will see Harry take to the floor for a few opening remarks, but the the rest of the day has been classed by his team as ‘private’.
Among the partnership’s first proposals are a guide to ‘score’ sustainability practices across the travel and tourism industry, with a focus on accommodation and aviation, that will be easy to understand for travellers.
A spokesman for the Travalyst partnership said: ‘Our ambition is to transform travel and tourism so that every holiday people take, every trip they book, will have a positive impact and better protect the destinations and communities they visit.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex at Victoria International Airport in Canada on February 14
The Duke of Sussex announces the Travalyst travel scheme in Amsterdam in September 2019
‘Whether it is through the activities people do, where they stay, or how they get there, we are looking for ways to make it easier for everyone to choose, and for the industry to provide, more purposeful and sustainable options.’
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.
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.
Prince William and Kate Middleton last night attended the theatre in London and it is not yet clear whether or not there are any plans for Harry to meet with his brother and sister-in-law in the coming days.
His involvement in Travalyst 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.
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.
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 travels so far this year and where they are expected to be going in February and March
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
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 this 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.
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 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 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
The countdown to Megxit is now on with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex due to step down as working royals in less than five weeks.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will take part in just seven more engagements before they officially step down on March 31 and close their Buckingham Palace office.
However, their final official engagement is expected to be as soon as March 9, when they will join the Queen at Westminster Abbey to mark Commonwealth Day.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are pictured leaving Canada House in London on January 7
Both Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, will return to the UK to undertake their final engagements as working royals.
These will be carried out as part of the royal rota system under the scrutiny of national media – print, radio and television – before they withdraw from it.
The Sussexes are living in a mansion on Vancouver Island in Canada with baby Archie – but sources say they see their future in the US.
Other events they will attend will include the Endeavour Fund Awards on March 5 and the Mountbatten Music Festival at the Royal Albert Hall two days later.
The couple have been told to drop their ‘Sussex Royal’ label, despite setting up a flashy new website to complement their popular Instagram feed under the title.
The Queen and senior officials are believed to have agreed it is no longer tenable for the couple to keep the word ‘royal’ in their ‘branding’.
Harry will retain his military ranks of major, lieutenant commander and squadron leader but will not use his honorary military positions.
The roles will remain unfilled during an agreed 12-month trial period, leaving the door open for him to return. Harry will also remain sixth in line to the throne.
Here is a guide to what their final six engagements will be after today, before they step down:
February 28: Invictus Games choir (Harry)
The first event for either Prince Harry or Meghan Markle in the couple’s farewell set will see Harry attend a recording session with US rock star Jon Bon Jovi and the Invictus Games choir, who are rerecording his song Unbroken to promote this year’s tournament.
The song will be recorded in Studio 2 at Abbey Road Studios in London, which was made famous by The Beatles who recorded 11 out of their 13 albums there.
The competition is designed to highlight the importance of sport as part of the recovery journey of those with life changing injuries or illnesses.
Prince Harry will attend a recording session with Jon Bon Jovi, pictured in Edinburgh in 2011
Harry staged the first games in 2014, and in September 2019 celebrated its fifth anniversary, saying had changed society’s perception of disability and mental health.
Harry was inspired to found the global tournament after attending the Warrior Games in Colorado in 2013 and seeing how injured American military personnel thrived on the challenge of taking part in competitive sports aiding their recovery.
The Duke of Sussex attends the Team UK launch for the Invictus Games in London last October
He went on to stage the inaugural games in London’s Olympic Park in 2014, followed by Orlando in 2016, Toronto in 2017 and Sydney in 2018, with The Hague chosen for the 2020 event where 500 competitors will take part in ten adaptive sports.
Organisers have said that after 2020, Invictus will be staged every two years.
March 5: Endeavour Fund Awards (Harry and Meghan)
Six days later the couple will attend the Endeavour Fund Awards which recognises wounded, injured or sick military personnel and veterans who have gone on to use sport and adventurous challenges as part of their recovery and rehabilitation.
Harry has attended every ceremony since the inaugural one in 2017, which he went to with his brother William. He went to the event in 2018 and 2019 with Meghan.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex pose with nominees and guests at the Endeavour Fund Awards at Drapers’ Hall in London on February 7, 2019
The Endeavour Fund was led by his and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Royal Foundation which saw them step up the drive to help wounded service personnel.
The Fund has brought about programmes such as Climb2Recovery, led by former Royal Engineer Neil Heritage Team Endeavour Racing, which was started by former Infantryman Stu Croxford and carried on by Royal Engineer veteran Brian Seggie.
Harry speaks to guests at a reception for the Endeavour Fund at St James’s Palace in 2015
It has also resulted in an expedition to Oman organised by a veteran Rifleman, Matt Fisher, which saw him and the team spend several days crossing the desert with Fund ambassador Levison Wood.
Harry has said of the Fund: ‘I am continually amazed by the tenacity, fortitude and unshakable humour displayed by the men and women who sign up to run races, cross oceans, climb mountains or take on challenges few would even contemplate.’
March 6: Silverstone Experience (Harry)
The following day, Harry will join British Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton at the official opening of the Silverstone Experience.
The much-anticipated museum – which the Duke has been backing for years – will tell the story of the past, present and future of British motor racing.
Prince Harry (right) meets racing drivers Jenson Button (left), Lewis Hamilton (second right) and former F1 World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart (second left) at Silverstone in July 2011
Harry official launched the project for the £19.3million visitor attraction in March 2018 and is the patron of the museum in Northamptonshire.
It was built inside a former Wellington bomber hanger located within the grounds of the track and officials hope it more than 500,000 people a year will visit.
Prince Harry, his cousin George McCorquodale and his mother Princess Diana are shown the workings of a Williams F1 car at Silverstone by driver David Coulthard in July 1994
Harry had promised it would be ‘an exhilarating attraction, based here at the home of British motorsport and I’m sure it will help to engage children in engineering’.
Harry is a big F1 fan, and congratulated Hamilton on his title win in November 2014 by telling him on the radio: ‘Lewis, you’re an absolute legend. Well done mate.’
March 7: Mountbatten Music Festival (Harry and Meghan)
The couple will also attend the Mountbatten Music Festival at the Royal Albert Hall, which see the Royal Marines showcase their musicianship and pageantry.
The festival takes places over two days – March 6 and March 7 – at the venue in London, with Harry expected to attend the Saturday evening performance.
The Duke of Sussex at the Mountbatten Festival of Music at the Royal Albert Hall in March 2019
Last year’s concert saw the Marine bands performed a range of different songs, including versions of popular hits by Take That and the Greatest Showman.
The 2019 event also marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day. All proceeds from the concert this year will again go to The Royal Marines Charity and CLIC Sargent.
The Massed Bands of the Royal Marines perform at the Mountbatten Festival of Music last year
This event will also be Harry’s last engagement as Captain-General of the Royal Marines, before he loses this title as he steps down as a senior royal.
The couple will continue to be known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as well as by the Earl and Countess of Dumbarton and the Baron and Baroness of Kilkeel.
March 8: International Women’s Day (Meghan)
Meghan is expected to undertake an engagement to mark International Women’s Day on March 8, although no specifics have yet been revealed.
Speaking on a panel to mark International Women’s Day last year, she said she would like her first child to be a feminist, regardless of whether they are a girl or a boy.
Meghan speaks at a panel in London in March 2019 with model Adwoa Aboah (left) and former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard (right) to mark International Women’s Day last year
Speaking on a panel to mark International Women’s Day, Meghan said she had recently been watching a documentary on feminism.
She told an audience at King’s College London last March: ‘One of the things they said during pregnancy was ‘I feel the embryonic kicking of feminism’.’
In March 2018, Harry and Meghan took part in an International Women’s Day event in Birmingham to encourage young women to pursue careers in Stem subjects
Meghan has spoken about how noticed during a school assignment that an advert for a dishwashing detergent suggested women do all the cleaning.
She complained about it in a letter to Proctor and Gamble when she was aged just 11, and the firm responded by changing a line in the advert.
In 2018, Harry and Meghan took part in an International Women’s Day event in Birmingham to encourage young women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects.
March 9: Commonwealth Service (Harry and Meghan)
Harry and Meghan will both attend the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey the next day with the Queen and other senior members of the Royal Family.
Earlier this month it was revealed that the Queen had requested that Harry and Meghan attend the annual service with the rest of the royals.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (left) with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (right) as they attend the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey on March 11 last year
The event will likely see the Duke and Duchess of Sussex reunite with Prince William and Kate, a year after they were pictured smiling together at the 2019 service.
But the Sussexes have severed professional ties with the Cambridges by pulling out of the Kensington Palace household and their joint charitable foundation.
Prince Harry and Meghan arrive for the Commonwealth Day service in London in March 2019
At last year’s event, Harry and Meghan were seated beside Prince Andrew, who has left his royal duties after an interview about his paedophile friend Jeffrey Epstein.
The 2019 service included performances by the Dhol Foundation drummers, Clean Bandit, William Barton on the didgeridoo, tenor Alfie Boe and the B Positive choir.
Commonwealth Day has been celebrated since 1977 annually on the second Monday in March, celebrating the historic ties Britain has with the 53 other countries.