Prince Harry addresses private jet furore: 'When I fly private, it's to ensure my family's safe'

The Duke of Sussex has addressed his family’s use of private jets during an eco-travel conference in the Netherlands.

The dad-of-one travelled to Amsterdam - on a commercial flight - to announce a campaign aiming to tackle the environmental problems surrounding tourism and travel.

The global initiative has been launched to encourage more environmentally friendly travel, but comes after a summer of headlines criticising Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, for using private planes.

During his speech to launch the programme the duke addressed the recent criticism of his use of private jets, explaining that there are occasions he needs to keep his family safe.

The Duke delivered a speech about how the travel industry could help the environment [Photo: Getty]

READ MORE: Pink and Ellen Degeneres join Elton John in defending Harry and Meghan's use of private jet

"I spend 99% of my life travelling the world by commercial,” he said after being asked about his travel means.

“Occasionally there needs to be an opportunity based on a unique circumstance to ensure that my family are safe.”

Harry, 34, flew into the city yesterday to launch the initiative, which has been in the making for two years.

“We are excited to announce the launch of ‘Travalyst’, a global initiative striving to change the impact of travel, for good,” an announcement on Harry and Meghan’s Instagram page read.

“Partnering alongside key travel industry giants @Bookingcom, #Ctrip, @Skyscanner, @TripAdvisor and @Visa_US, our aim is to spark a movement to transform the future of travel, putting communities at the heart of the solution.”

Prince Harry arrived for the launch looking relaxed in a pale, grey suit, crisp, white shirt and brown, suede boots, before heading inside to discuss how the travel industry can help the environment by encouraging more sustainable travel options.

The Duke of Sussex arrived at the launch of his new travel initiative looking relaxed [Photo: Getty]

During his speech he told the crowd that “we could all do better” when it comes to the environment.

"While no one is perfect, we all have a responsibility for our own individual impact,” he said.

"The question is what we do to balance it out."

Following the Duke’s arrival at the launch many took to social media to express their views on the new initiative, with many claiming that the royal’s campaign seems to be at odds with his recent means of travel.

Others, however, went online to offer praise for the initiative and Prince Harry’s efforts in helping to launch it.

Some were particularly impressed that the press release about the initiative was on paper that could be planted after use.

This summer the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have faced criticism from the public after reportedly travelling by private jet more than four times this summer.

Harry, 34, and Meghan, 38, along with their three-month-old son Archie, have holidayed in Ibiza and at Sir Elton John’s £15 million villa in Nice in the south of France.

Their choices have caused controversy as the couple have been continually vocal about environmental issues.

Sir Elton John defended Harry and Meghan for travelling by private jet to his mansion in France, writing in an Instagram post: “To support Prince Harry’s commitment to the environment, we ensured their flight was carbon neutral, by making the appropriate contribution to Carbon Footprint™.”

READ MORE: ‘Harry was a people’s prince, now he’s become preachy, hypocritical and detached’

US chat show host Ellen Degeneres, singer Pink and Argentine polo player Nachos Figueras have also joined Sir Elton John in support of the royal couple.

Ahead of the launch of the Travalyst initiative, The Duke of Sussex said in a statement: "Travel has the unparalleled power to open people's minds to different cultures, new experiences and to have a profound appreciation for what our world has to offer.

"As tourism inevitably grows, it is critically important to accelerate the adoption of sustainable practices worldwide; and to balance this growth with the needs of the environment and the local population.

"Bringing companies, consumers and communities together is our best chance to protect destinations and ecosystems for future generations."