Sir El­ton and the royal hyp­ocrites

Sur­prise, sur­prise: Harry and Meghan are crit­i­cized for their jet-set­ting ways

The Peterborough Examiner - - Opinion - EMMA TEITEL Emma Teitel is a colum­nist based in Toronto cov­er­ing cur­rent af­fairs. Fol­low her on Twit­ter: @em­marosetei­tel

Stars: they’re just like us. They ac­knowl­edge that cli­mate change will dev­as­tate the planet and they do noth­ing about it. Or worse, they aid it along.

This week the Bri­tish press ap­pears to have crowned Prince Harry and Meghan Markle the King and Queen of Hypocrisy af­ter news broke that the cou­ple took two trips on a pri­vate jet within a week.

Fly­ing around the world on a per­sonal plane may not sound like ex­tra­or­di­nary be­hav­iour for the uber­rich, but it is in­deed hyp­o­crit­i­cal be­hav­iour when the uber-rich in ques­tion have a pen­chant for en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivism.

Last month Prince Harry and Meghan Markle be­gan fol­low­ing Greta Thun­berg on In­sta­gram, the 16-year-old cli­mate change ac­tivist sail­ing across the At­lantic Ocean in a so­lar-pow­ered yacht; the same Greta Thun­berg fea­tured in a spe­cial edi­tion of Bri­tish Vogue, guest edited by none other than the Duchess her­self.

Also fea­tured in Markle’s Vogue edi­tion: an in­ter­view with Dr. Jane Goodall con­ducted by Prince Harry in which he tells Goodall that he and Markle in­tend to have no more than two chil­dren, pre­sum­ably as a ges­ture of kind­ness to an over­crowded planet Earth.

It isn’t a stretch to say that the of­fi­cial “Sus­sex Royal” In­sta­gram ac­count is a gallery of good deeds and en­vi­ron­men­tal call to ac­tion.

A re­cent post on the ac­count from June shows a photo grid com­prised of all man­ner of Green-re­lated con­tent: pen­guins on a melt­ing ice floe, a lit­tle girl hold­ing up a sign that reads “Mother Na­ture is Cry­ing,” and be­neath the photo-grid, a quote from the Duke of Sus­sex him­self.

It reads, in part: “With nearly 7.7 bil­lion peo­ple in­hab­it­ing this Earth, ev­ery choice, ev­ery foot­print, ev­ery ac­tion makes a dif­fer­ence.”

Ev­ery ac­tion but his own, ap­par­ently.

We know that fly­ing in air­planes is bad for the planet. We know that an ef­fec­tive way to curb one’s car­bon foot­print is to fly less of­ten and, it should go with­out say­ing, to fly with other peo­ple. Or, a la Greta Thun­berg, to not fly at all. But not only did Harry and Meghan fly, they set off on a pri­vate jet to visit their good friend El­ton John, a choice that, ac­cord­ing to one es­ti­mate (via ITV), likely gen­er­ated seven times more car­bon emis­sions per per­son than a stan­dard com­mer­cial flight.

And not only did they set off on a pri­vate jet amid a bout of en­vi­ron­men­tal preachy-ness. Their fa­mous friends rushed to their de­fence in the af­ter­math of this event. El­ton John was one of a few big stars to stand up for the prince on so­cial me­dia this week writ­ing that he is “deeply dis­tressed” by the me­dia’s crit­i­cism of the Duke and Duchess fol­low­ing their pri­vate stay at his home in Nice.

In the words of Ellen DeGeneres, also on Twit­ter: “Imag­ine be­ing at­tacked for ev­ery­thing you do, when all you’re try­ing to do is make the world bet­ter.”

It seems these celebri­ties have dropped one hot but­ton cause and taken up an­other: an­tibul­ly­ing. In their minds, Harry and Meghan are

It isn’t a stretch to say that the of­fi­cial “Sus­sex Royal” In­sta­gram ac­count is a gallery of good deeds and en­vi­ron­men­tal call to ac­tion.

the vic­tims of a bul­ly­ing cam­paign or­ches­trated by the me­dia. And in some ways they’re cor­rect.

It’s en­tirely fair to main­tain that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (the lat­ter es­pe­cially) have been vic­tims of un­due crit­i­cism at the hands of the tabloid press. No­body should be scolded, as Markle was, for hold­ing her preg­nant belly or wear­ing jeans to a sport­ing event.

But when it comes to this par­tic­u­lar press firestorm, it’s dif­fi­cult to sym­pa­thize with the Sus­sexes. Of course, no­body is per­fect, nor can we rea­son­ably ex­pect Harry and Meghan to sail (in­stead of fly) to El­ton John’s es­tate on the open water with their baby in tow.

But is it so much to ask that if they have a lux­ury va­ca­tion planned that re­quires the ser­vice of a pri­vate jet, that they cool it on the en­vi­ron­men­tal preach­ing for a while?

At the end of the day, most of us are hyp­ocrites when it comes to fight­ing cli­mate change. (I’d bet that even Greta Thun­berg leaves the lights on from time to time.) And the Sus­sexes seem like lovely peo­ple, pri­vate jet and all.

But if they’re go­ing to dish it out, they’ve got to be able to take it. If they tell us our choices mat­ter, they shouldn’t be sur­prised when we tell them that their choices mat­ter, too.

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