On August 2nd of this year, in his quiet garden at Kensington Palace, The Duke of Cambridge sat down with CNN’s Max Foster for what would turn out to be one of the most highly anticipated royal interviews in a long time.
From a CNN press release issued on Monday:
Prince William’s Passion: New Father, New Hope will premiere this Sunday in the UK at 6pm on ITV, and at 10 pm ET on CNN. The documentary chronicles Prince William’s passion for conservation in Africa, and how as a new father, he find himself more committed than ever to saving Africa’s endangered species.
In the film, Prince William recalls how his love for Africa was born, remembering his late mother Princess Diana when she returned from her trips: “She would come back with all these stories and full of excitement and just passion for what she had been doing and I sort of used to sit there, quite a sort of surprised little boy at the time, taking it all in.”
In the hour long special, Prince William shares with CNN’s Max Foster the evolution of his passion for conservation. From childhood tales told to him by his parents, to memories of visiting Africa for the first time, to his proposal to the Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William recounts the pivotal role the continent and its endangered species have played in his life.
As a new father, what he once “believed,” he says he now “feels” on a much deeper level, and hopes that Prince George can experience the same Africa that he and his brother did as boys.
Prince William’s Passion: New Father, New Hope will also feature exclusive footage of the Royal couple’s first public appearance together since the birth of their son at the Tusk Conservation Awards. The Duke of Cambridge, as the Royal Patron of Tusk Trust – a dynamic organization that funds development programs in Africa – will present the Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa.
The Prince spoke with CNN’s Max Foster and programme maker Jane Treays writing for Radio Times…
Here are some of the highlights:
During the course of the interview, his Royal Highness was shown a horrifying video clip of a rhinoceros killed by poachers. With eyes filled with tears, Prince William admitted that becoming a father had sharply deepened his resolve to fight the evils of poaching.
“The last few weeks for me have been a very different emotional experience – something I never thought I would feel for myself,” he told her for the documentary, Prince William’s Passion: New Father, New Hope, which will be screened on ITV and CNN from 6pm on Sunday.
“I find, even though it’s only been a short period, that a lot of things affect me now – when I see a clip like that there’s so much emotion and so much feeling wrapped up into conservation and environment, It’s just so powerful.”
“The wildlife is incredibly vulnerable and I feel a real protective instinct, more so now that I am a father, which is why I get emotional about it… you want to stand up for what is very vulnerable and needs protecting. Elephants, rhinos and many other animals that are persecuted don’t have a voice.”
“I do regularly daydream, and Africa is definitely one of the places I go to. I’ve got hundreds of animals on my iPhone, noises and sounds of the bush, so if I’m having a stressful day, I’ll put a buffalo, a cricket or a newt on and it takes you back instantly to the bush. And it does completely settle me down.”
“Africa emotionally and mentally has affected me. It’s magical. Every time I go back it brings out new things. This is a lifelong commitment and I’ll always be involved… no matter what.”
Upon watching the disturbing clip, an emotional William said: “You’d think something that big and that’s been around so long, would have worked out a way to avoid being caught and persecuted, but they really don’t.
“I do feel anger, but I also feel really great hope that we will overcome this as a human race. The more we raise the issue and the more education there is… I wouldn’t be here right now if I didn’t think there was a chance it could be successful. Poaching is now probably the worst I’ve ever known it, but I am not the kind of guy to give up.”
“It’s horrifying… It’s hard to put into words, the depth of sadness that I would feel if they became extinct,” William said. “The way they are doing things is getting more and more sophisticated. As soon as you find a way of dealing with it, they find another. Education is such a huge, important issue, to educate everyone involved in the illegal markets about the damage that can be done and the implications of what they are doing.”
The Prince also recognises the need to find a practical solution to poor villages whose crops are in constant danger of being trampled by elephants.
“We have to remember how desperately poor these guys are… this is all they have known, living in these communities with their cattle and goats, and they will protect them to their last breath. Their water and grazing is in very short supply. Conservation has to have these communities’ blessing.”
Does the Prince have a soft spot for any particular animal? “Ha, that’s a hard one! I have to say I do love cheetahs, they are the most docile, awesome creatures. They can be lying perfectly quietly, and then… an absolute killing machine. It’s the elegance of them, they way they look at you… they would come quite high on my list.”
“It’s just the most incredible sight,” said The Prince, recalling how he put his hand on a tranquilised elephant awaiting relocation, “to get on the ground and see it and feel its chest going up and down as it’s breathing and you’re sort of looking after it. It was incredible.”
About camping in the bush during his gap year, William reminisced:
“I’d usually be worried about something coming into my sleeping bag! I’m not so good with spiders and snakes, but the bigger stuff I don’t mind. And the smells and the noises get every one of your senses going. Being out in the middle of nowhere, I loved it, I really did… stars 360 degrees around you, sleeping on the ground, and getting back to where we all come from… it’s quite moving.”
“For me, it’s a sense of freedom. Being out in the middle of nowhere in Africa, looking at the projects, seeing the beauty of nature and the natural world, is just phenomenal. I love the fact you can go into any village in Kenya or the east coast of Africa and just walk in and have a chat with someone and they have absolutely no idea who you are. Usually my Swahili stops after about two sentences but we muddle through in English!”
The royal Family’s enduring love for Africa is multigenerational, as Richard Palmer of The Express reminds us. It was on that fateful day of her return from Kenya, in 1952, that a young Princess Elizabeth learned of her father’s passing, and was hit with the daunting reality of her impending queenship.
William’s grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, was the first ever President of the World Wildlife Fund UK, an endeavour now taken over by his father, The Prince of Wales.
It was in Africa that Diana, William’s mother, became an advocate for AIDS orphans and the dismantling of land mines.
“The legacy is quite a daunting one, following on from my grandfather and father. It just sort of happened,” William said. “My mother would come back with all these stories, full of excitement and passion for what she had been doing and I used to sit there, quite a surprised little boy, taking it all in – and the infectious enthusiasm and energy she had rubbed off on me.”
“At the moment, the only legacy I want to pass on to him is to sleep more and maybe not to have to change his nappy quite so many times,”‘said William of his two-week old son, “but as he gets older, I’m sure he’ll pick up the bug of conservation.”
The full August 2nd interview can be read in Radio Times coming out on newsstands today.