NORMAN BAKER takes aim at Prince Charles
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NORMAN BAKER takes aim at Prince Charles


Time and again, the Prince of Wales has championed the environment. It is an issue he embraced years earlier than most and one which he genuinely cares about  But just as he apparently sees no conflict between his concern for some animals and his enthusiasm for hunting or shooting other species, so Prince Charles seems oblivious to the damage he himself causes while cajoling the rest of us to minimise our green footprint Some would classify it as simple hypocrisy, others as some sort of Orwellian doublethink where he can hold two contradictory positions at the same time Perhaps it boils down to arrogance.  The Royal accounts for 2018-19, the latest available, show that Charles tops the list for travel extravagance once again, burning through £1 13 million in a year. He is pictured with the Duchess of Cornwall in AfricaIt is in matters to do with travel where we see the greatest disconnect between what Charles says and what Charles does The Prince clearly understands the threat from climate change and has articulated both the extent of the problem and the need for urgent and far-reaching action He has personally implemented a number of green measures, too. In its 2007 Annual Review, for instance, the Duchy of Cornwall – a vast estate that is effectively owned by the Prince of Wales – said it had managed to reduce carbon emissions by nine per cent With the exception of the Prince’s Aston Martin, which was by then only covering 100 miles a year, all the Duchy vehicles were running on biodiesel, said the report  By 2008, even the Aston Martin had been converted to run on bioethanol produced from surplus wine Meghan is pictured cradling son Archie on the tarmac. The only real response from the Windsors has been to attempt to choke off the supply of information Twenty years ago, the annual list itemised all journeys costing more than £500. By 2010, the threshold had been raised to £10,000On one occasion, when we shared a platform at a Prince’s Trust event, Charles proudly told me – apropos of nothing – that the Royal Train was now running on used cooking oil  I congratulated him, and meant it, even if the Royal Train is hugely expensive. It costs well over £500,000 a year just to maintain, before it has moved an inch By 2007, the Prince was urging all his staff to cycle to work, although he had no plans to do so himself  That same year, he made a commitment to using public transport ‘where appropriate’, though it appears to have been appropriate on very few occasions Sadly, these small but worthwhile moves pale into insignificance when Charles’s flying habits are factored in Air travel is an enormous generator of greenhouse gases and the Prince must be aware of this  Yet when Charles was given the Harvard Club’s Global Environmental Citizen Award in 2007, he decided to pick up the award by commandeering the entire first-class cabin of a jumbo and flying to Philadelphia with an entourage of 20   Andrew is pictured coming down the steps of his private chartered plane in India in 2012  As the latest accounts make clear, it is business as usual for the pampered Windsors, and the result has been a doubling of carbon emissions from Royal travel in the course of the year, up from 1,687 to 3,344 tonsAt public expense Such bloated arrangements are par for the course, unfortunately.In April 2018, the Prince took 13 Clarence House staff with him to the Commonwealth Games in Queensland, at a cost of £155,000 to the taxpayer in transport alone His entourage included a doctor, a dresser, a valet and someone called a travelling yeoman, whose exact responsibilities seemed unclear It later emerged that the yeoman was involved in choosing Charles’s clothes, which makes you wonder what the valet and dresser were doing In July 2017, the Prince ran up a travel bill of £30,414 for a one-day trip on a charter plane to Belgium  Presumably it was not ‘appropriate’ to take the excellent Eurostar service direct from London to Brussels  In October that same year, Prince Edward and his wife Sophie managed a five-day trip all the way to Brunei for a comparatively modest £21,000 – around two-thirds of the cost of Charles’s Belgian jaunt Officially, we are asked to believe that the Royal Household carefully weighs up the options for each journey, balancing matters such as safety, value for money, and the length of the journey Charles is pictured getting into a car in Germany earlier this yearWhen Charles and his wife Camilla made their own trip to Brunei, India, Malaysia and Singapore that very same month, they used the RAF’s special VIP transport jet – a converted Voyager tanker – which cost the taxpayer a whopping £362,149  For the year 2017-18, Charles spent a total of well over £700,000 on journeys that each cost more than £15,000 (the figure at which they are publicly recorded ) The total would have been even higher when individual flights that cost less than £15,000 were also factored in The Royal accounts for 2018-19, the latest available, show that Charles tops the list for travel extravagance once again, burning through £1 13 million in a year. They show that even a simple trip to France and Greece cost £159,820 – but then the RAF Voyager does not come cheap  The Palace argues that journeys are undertaken at the request of the Government and indeed they often are but nobody in government demands the use of private jets and helicopters that greatly increase carbon emissions And nobody has required the Royals to waste £200,000 on private jets in this one year to ferry them between London and their private residences in Scotland, such as Balmoral Officially, we are asked to believe that the Royal Household carefully weighs up the options for each journey, balancing matters such as safety, value for money, and the length of the journey  A few, including the Queen and Princess Anne, genuinely seem to do this but most clearly do not It is an attitude that combines arrogance and hypocrisy in equal measure. 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Share this article Share The truth is that private jets are now the default option for the Prince of Wales As the latest accounts make clear, it is business as usual for the pampered Windsors, and the result has been a doubling of carbon emissions from Royal travel in the course of the year, up from 1,687 to 3,344 tons As someone once put it to me: ‘The Royal Family wants to travel on magic carpets.’The only real response from the Windsors has been to attempt to choke off the supply of information Twenty years ago, the annual list itemised all journeys costing more than £500. By 2010, the threshold had been raised to £10,000 The figure was upped again in 2016 to £15,000, conveniently hiding all those gratuitous helicopter journeys, 202 of them that year, or around four a week, as well as 43 charter flights that now slip in just under the bar As most journeys by Royal Train cost just over £15,000, can we expect the reporting threshold to be raised to £20,000 soon?Challenging Charles for the dubious honour of the Royal who costs the taxpayer most per mile – and who emits the greatest amount of carbon – is Prince Andrew In 2005, the National Audit Office (NAO), normally sober and careful with its public comments, produced a blistering attack It revealed that in just 12 months, the Duke of York ran up an expense sheet totalling £325,000 on helicopters and planes, including a £3,000 helicopter trip from London to Oxford, and a £4,686 return journey from London to Scotland aboard a Ministry of Defence 32 Squadron aircraft Remember Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, lampooned as ‘Two Jags’ when he was busy lecturing us on climate change? The cost to the planet – and the taxpayer – of running two Jaguars is a tiny fraction of the cost of a single journey by helicopter or private jetSir John Bourn, the then head of the NAO, noted that a return flight to London was available for £254 and pointed out acidly that the Duke’s next Royal engagement was four days later Which is to say there was no particular rush. When the Palace is questioned about the Prince’s lavish travel arrangements, it says only that ‘the Duke has also used public transport in the past’ Is that the best line they can come up with? Perhaps it is. Andrew’s attitude to the public purse is typified by a trip he made to India in 2012  Instead of taking up the offer of staying at the British High Commissioner’s luxury Delhi residence, as Charles had done on a previous visit, Andrew insisted on checking in to the Maharaja suite at the Leela Palace, just about the most expensive hotel suite in the city The Foreign Office should have shown some backbone and refused to pay.Andrew is even happy to call on public money in order to pursue his golfing interests In June 2006, the Government finally answered my questions about his use of the MoD 32 Squadron aircraft in 2004 It was finally admitted that a first ‘official duty’ had involved his attendance at a meeting of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in St Andrews   The countryside champion’s blots on the landscape The Prince of Wales has regularly intervened in architectural matters to defend the countryside or to champion traditional design He famously derailed the proposed extension to the National Gallery back in 1984, calling the design a ‘monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend’ In 2002, he threatened to withdraw his patronage from the National Trust if it proceeded with a design for its new Swindon headquarters And in 2009, he was accused by leading architect Richard Rogers of subverting the planning system when he called in a Royal favour to scupper plans for the redevelopment of Chelsea Barracks Yet not all inappropriate development has upset him.In 2011, he infuriated locals in Truro by proposing to build 98 mock-Georgian houses and a supermarket equipped with 1,200 parking spaces on farmland next to the town Then there was his plan a couple of years earlier to build 2,000 new homes on Duchy of Cornwall land, which he owns, west of Bath This green belt countryside was home to kestrels and buzzards, hares and deer. And let us not forget the proposal by the Duchy to wipe out a wildlife sanctuary on the edge of Newquay in order to build a 200-home ‘eco-village’ In 2006, Charles allowed the cultivation of alien Pacific oysters in the Lower Fal estuary and Helford river in Cornwall, thus providing another handy income stream for the Duchy, which owns 85 per cent of the stretches of water in question and the whole of the riverbeds The problem is that these Pacific oysters are highly destructive to the marine environment In 2008, Natural England warned about the marine damage being caused to these beautiful stretches of water  It transpired that the Duchy had failed to carry out an environmental impact assessment, as required by law, before issuing the licence No prosecution followed and with the passage of time, the fears about the damage these invasive non-native species can do has proved to be sadly accurate Meanwhile, the alien oysters turn up in expensive London restaurants and are described as ‘sustainable’ In fact, a contribution of £636 had been made towards each flight – there and back – to defray costs, though naturally not by Andrew Rather, this was paid by the R&A.The second occasion was his attendance at a meeting of the Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland On each trip, Andrew attended an official event nearby. Was this a device that allowed him to charge the whole cost to the Government?Over the years, there has been a curious overlap between Andrew’s Royal duties and the proximity of golf courses Just months after the blistering NAO report, he used the Royal Flight to visit Orkney, where once again he managed to take in a round of golf In 2009, he racked up a bill of some £2,000 for a helicopter to take him 113 miles from Windsor to a golf course in Kent where a party was taking place  He spent about an hour at the Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club in Deal, where he spoke exclusively about golf before leaving A spokesman claimed it was ‘an entirely justifiable expense’.Extravagance is nothing new for the Windsors When Prince Philip sailed off for months aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia in 1956, he racked up a bill of at least £2 million  The cost was increased by his demand for a ‘commando raft’ to unload his Rolls-Royce at places where there were no car-docking facilities He also travelled with his own sports car.Princess Margaret commandeered the Royal Yacht for 44 days for her honeymoon the following year – and ate up £1 million of public money in the process  As she lounged on deck sipping cocktails and taking in the sun, it would be nice to think she spared a thought for those poorly paid British Servicemen who had suffered a deduction in wages in order to club together for a wedding present for her Normal standards simply didn’t apply then and they don’t now. Remember Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, lampooned as ‘Two Jags’ when he was busy lecturing us on climate change?The cost to the planet – and the taxpayer – of running two Jaguars is a tiny fraction of the cost of a single journey by helicopter or private jet Prescott, moreover, was democratically elected.We cannot run Prince Andrew out of office because he is an hereditary fixture We are stuck with him.© Norman Baker, 2019l What Do You Do? What The Royal Family Don’t Want You To Know, by Norman Baker, is published by Biteback, priced £20 Offer price £16 (20 per cent discount) until November 12. To order, call 01603 648155 or go to mailshop co.uk. Free delivery on all orders – no minimum spend.

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