It’s not easy (sometimes) being a royal, as in the British royal family.

Every word they utter, every gesture they take, is under scrutiny, including private gossip from disgruntled staff. This week, Prince Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, really stepped in it verbally on climate change.

The U.K. Daily Mail reported on Prince Harry’s interview with Dr. Jane Goodall that will publish in the September edition of British Vogue magazine. The article describes the Prince this way: “becoming a father has made him see the world differently” and that he and his wife, Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, “only want ‘two maximum’ [children] to help protect the environment.”

The Prince reiterated this “two maximum” point about children in his speech to his fellow elites attending the exclusive climate change summit in Sicily, hosted by Google.

Oh, where to begin?

Prince Harry is the second child of Prince Charles, a global warming alarmist-in-chief. Harry’s new stance about children places him in the extremist camp in believing that the existence of people is zero-sum bad for the earth. After all, we have a carbon footprint of 58.6 tons per person annually, we’re told. It’s not clear if Dr. Goodall asked him to elaborate on how more human exhaling of CO2 would alter the planet’s climate trajectory.

Another question for the Prince and Princess of Sussex – why bother having another child? Why not stop at one, like the Chinese? Their new baby, Prince Archie, if he lives to be 80, will spew 4,688 tons of carbon. Two children would mean 9,376 tons over eight decades.

Furthermore, if they stick with one child, the replacement rate of 2.1 children per couple has nearly been met if you combine little Archie with his three cousins, the children of his older brother, Prince William, and his wife, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge. (Rumor has it that William and Kate are not done having children, and good for them.)

To fight climate change and protect the environment, Prince Harry and Meghan also should reconsider their recent move out of Kensington palace. This is where he and his brother grew up with Prince Charles and his first wife, the late Diana Spencer, the mother of William and Harry. Kensington is so large, Di remained there after her divorce until her tragic death in 1997. Instead, Harry and Meghan, not long after they were married, had a falling out with William and Kate and recently took up residence at the Frogmore “cottage,” which has ten bedrooms, on the grounds of Windsor Castle.

Living in separate palaces means utilities (electricity, gas and heat) will no longer be shared.  Seeing how they verbally care so much for the environment, was it not selfish for Harry and Meghan to move out, rather than share with his brother’s growing family? They still wouldn’t need bunk beds. Shouldn’t Harry and Meghan sacrifice and share a single palace for the good of the earth?

And how about the royal family, and royalty itself? Just how big is that carbon footprint? The family has multiple large homes, a small army of servants and luxurious travel, which obviously consumes exponentially more resources and spews mega-tons more carbon than the average commoner.

Now, it may be too much to expect the British royal family to give it all up, even if it means “fighting” climate change. So let’s stick with Harry, who is so bothered by the impact of people on the planet.

Wouldn’t he be doing a great service and setting an environmental example by renouncing his royal birthright, and raising his small family in a London flat? I doubt Princess Meghan would go for it, having just become a royal with all its fringe benefits. But, doing so would sharply reduce their carbon footprint.

Harry would not be the first royal to renounce. There is precedent. His great-great uncle, Edward VIII, did so in 1936 for a lesser reason than to save the planet.

Edward, you see, was in love with an American soon-to-be divorcee named Wallace Warfield Simpson, but at the time he was forbidden to marry such a person. So he abdicated the throne to his kid brother, George VI. (Fyi, George is the father of Queen Elizabeth.)

Historians believe, with the Nazis on the rise in the 1930’s, the world itself was way better off with George as king rather than the hapless Edward, but I digress. Edward and Wallace married and lived not so happily ever after, and became a trivial pursuit question.  As an aside, the divorcee prohibition for royal marriages was junked in 2002, which enabled Harry to marry Meghan.

Another consideration for Harry to jettison royalty is that he will never be king, now that he’s slipped to sixth in succession to the throne, way out of reach. He used to be third in line, behind his older brother and father, but William and Kate have reproduced beyond their own replacement rate, with three children and counting.

Clearly, it’s not happening for Harry; he won’t be crowned. He will never be more than a prince.

I have nothing against the British royal family per se. I mostly enjoy the tradition and history they represent, dating way back to William the Conqueror in 1066. But their whole lives are mostly a never-ending vacation in the lap of luxury, living off the taxpayers.

To be fair, there are exceptions to this, as Harry himself served admirably in Her Majesty’s Army as a cavalry officer in combat in Afghanistan.

Still, Prince Harry and his dad, Charles, should spare us their preening about the fragile earth, family size and the climate until they are ready to live like the rest of us, paying taxes with a far smaller carbon footprint.  At least bulldoze the royal vacation homes and fly commercial, if at all, for starters.  It would save a lot more carbon than having fewer children.

Author

  • Peter Murphy, a CFACT analyst, has researched and advocated for a variety of policy issues, including education reform and fiscal policy. He previously wrote and edited The Chalkboard weblog for the New York Charter Schools Association, and has been published in numerous media outlets, including The Hill, New York Post and the Wall Street Journal.