Prince Charles, Camilla took dozens of flights within UK and Ireland

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall took more than 40 charter and helicopter flights within the UK and Ireland between them last year, royal family accounts show.

The heir to the throne, a long-term climate and environmental advocate, and his wife Camilla traveled to Belfast, Cardiff, and even the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow by private charter flight in the financial year ending 31 March, according to travel accounts published in the Royal Household’s annual financial statement.

The travel included a helicopter trip costing nearly £30,000 which the prince and duchess took from Belfast in May last year to visit a range of places in Northern Ireland including a forest park, a women’s center and a group that empower people by working with horses, according to the statement, known as the Sovereign Grant Report.

In July, the royal couple embarked on a multi-stop trip around Wales by helicopter taking in a vaccine factory, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, a hospital and Glamorgan Cricket Club in Cardiff. This trip came to around £16,000.

In most cases, airborne air travel is the most carbon-intensive form of travel, according to the Aviation Environment Federation.

It also releases nitrogen oxides, soot and water vapor in the upper atmosphere and creates contrails that combine to create a net warming effect, roughly tripling the total global warming impact of aviation compared to carbon dioxide alone, the federation says.

But Sir Clive Alderton, the prince’s principal private secretary, said the prince has “personally” driven the move to use sustainable aviation fuel, which is now used for all official travel “wherever possible.”

Sustainable aviation fuel is a biofuel used to power aircraft that has similar properties to conventional jet fuel but with a smaller carbon footprint, according to the US Department of Energy. A spokesperson for the prince said the flights were more expensive because of the use of sustainable aviation fuel.

A royal source told PA news agency Charles was working to reconcile the conflict between his responsibilities traveling around the world on royal duties and his role as an environmental champion.

Charles is “pretty allergic” to traveling by helicopter and will often object when the mode of transport is suggested, they said.

“If the recommendation goes to the Prince of Wales, he will raise an eyebrow and say ‘go through this again’,” the source added.

The prince is a longtime environmentalist who has spent decades campaigning for better protections for the planet.

In the past he has said he understands the frustration of climate campaigners have felt, and at Cop26 in November he called for world powers to engage in a “war-like footing” to tackle the climate crisis with a “military-style campaign” to cajole the private sector into making the changes needed to address urgent environmental issues.

Other members of the royal family also took charter flights and helicopters to attend engagements across the UK and beyond. Total travel expenditure for the monarchy’s official engagements came to £4.5m in the financial year 2021-2022, according to the Sovereign Grant Report.

The journeys detailed only include those that cost more than £15,000 each. Royals also took 179 helicopter flights, 24 charter flights, scheduled flights and rail journeys costing under £15,000.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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