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William At 40: his passion for the environment

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the 2021 Earthshot Awards
i-Images/ Pool

Prince William’s passion for the environment may have been inspired by his grandfather and father but it has been empowered by his son.

When doing a podcast with Australian actress Cate Blanchett called Climate of Change with Cate Blanchett and Danny Kennedy, The Duke of Cambridge shared: “I think my grandfather and my father both kind of having a deep passion and interest in this area for many years has sort of piqued my interest and my curiosity. So growing up, I was surrounded by kind of this adventure and this idea of exploring and being out in the garden. I used to spend hours climbing trees, digging ditches and all sorts of things, hiding in dens and all sorts from the garden, so I used to love being out in the wild and the wet.”

He added this childhood love of the outdoors was nurtured into his gap year spent in Kenya. There he was able to learn from experts about challenges facing wild animals and the environment. Since 2005, the Duke of Cambridge has been the royal patron of Tusk. Tusk began as a response to wildlife poaching and continues to fund wildlife conservation programmes.

Prince William went on to develop the United for Wildlife declaration. He was able to unite major financial institutions disrupt the illegal trade in wildlife products. Prince William commented on the work to end the 23 billion illegal trade: “The urgent challenge of the illegal wildlife trade is one we face as a global community. We cannot afford for the fight to end wildlife crime to be a priority solely for conservationists any more. It is an issue for us all.”

The effort to #EndWildlifeCrime, the hashtag used by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, earned public praise from Prince Charles at an International Wildlife Trade Conference at St. James’s Palace: “I can only say here how proud I am of the role my elder son, William, has played as a leader in this area, helping to raise the issue higher up the global agenda, including working with the Chinese Government on the introduction of the ivory ban.”

In 2019, Prince William announced his Earthshot Prize. The goal is to, over 10 years, give 50 solutions to the world’s greatest environmental problems. In his announcement of the challenge, the Duke of Cambridge said: “We face a stark choice: Either we continue as we are and irreparably damage our planet or we remember our unique power as human beings and our continual ability to lead, innovate and problem-solve. The next ten years presents us with one of our greatest tests-a decade of change to repair the Earth.”

Earthshot Prize winners have been announced, with each receiving one million pounds and the support to bring their solution to fruition. Prince William also has the “Earthshot Prize: Repairing Our Planet” series on Discovery+.

As president of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), Prince William encourages media producers to promote a positive view of protecting the planet and have programming with climate change messages. In a speech, he said: “Now more than ever, program makers have a unique opportunity to ensure climate change and sustainability remain at the forefront of our collective consciousness. By creating innovative, educational and emotive content for television, writers and producers are playing a unique role in ensuring the future of our planet is something that we all want to talk about.”

It is because of his children that Prince William developed a stronger drive to protect the environment. In a documentary, “Prince William: A Planet for Us All,” he states: “I really want to make sure that in 20 years, George doesn’t turn around and say, ‘are you ahead of your time?’ Because if he does, we’re too late. I feel it is my duty and our collective responsibility to leave our planet in a stronger position for our children.”

Prince William’s passion for the environment was evident at the Platinum Jubilee. In his speech at the Party at the Palace celebrations, Prince William proclaimed: “Today, in 2022, as The Queen celebrates her Platinum Jubilee, the pressing need to protect and restore our planet has never been more urgent.”

A self-described “stubborn optimist,” the Duke of Cambridge ended his speech with: “Together, if we harness the very best of humankind and restore our planet we will protect it for our children, for our grandchildren and for future generations to come. They will be able to say with pride at what’s been achieved: ‘What a wonderful world.’”