The Prince of Wales has been branded a “serial hypocrite” after it emerged that the heir to the throne– who prides himself on his green credentials – used a helicopter to fly less than 70 miles in order to attend a polo match.
Prince Charles has frequently spoken of the need to address climate change and has urged members of the public to cut their carbon footprint. In 2012 he declared “mankind must go green or die”, and earlier this year he encouraged Britons to mark Earth Hour by switching off lights to save energy and reflecting on “this extraordinary planet that sustains us all”.
But the Prince appears to be struggling to practice what he preaches. Last weekend, he instructed the royal helicopter, which is based at RAF Odiham, Hampshire, to fly 60 miles to his Gloucestershire retreat, Highgrove. He was then transported to Windsor Great Park, 68 miles away, where he stepped into a Jaguar for the short trip to Guards Polo Club.
After the Prince watched England beat South America in the Coronation Cup and presented the cup to the home team he was whisked back to Highgrove by the helicopter, which is understood to have then returned to its base.
It is estimated that the four trips racked up 256 air miles, yet the Prince could have driven to Windsor and back in 155 miles.
It would have taken the Prince, who had no other official engagements, about an hour and 45 minutes each way to travel by car.
The flight would burned around 200 gallons of aviation fuel, compared with four gallons of petrol.
In pictures: Prince Charles's most controversial moments
In pictures: Prince Charles's most controversial moments
1/10 Princely influence
The Prince of Wales tried to influence Tony Blair’s government on issues such as grammar schools, alternative medicine and GM food, a BBC radio programme revealed.
2/10 Charles and grammar schools
David Blunkett, right, was among those who disclosed they had been contacted by the Prince of Wales. The former Education Secretary spoke about Prince Charles’ attempts to expand grammar schools, and how he 'didn’t like' it when his suggestion was refused.
3/10 Ignoring austerity
The cost of the monarchy to the taxpayer rose by nearly six per cent last year - more than double the rate of inflation. Travel costs incurred by the Prince of Wales, who has recently begun to take over official duties previously undertaken by his mother, included a £434,000 visit to India with the Duchess of Cornwall, and a charter flight to attend the funeral of Nelson Mandela which cost £246,160
4/10 The 'withered' Prince
Spain’s King Juan Carlos reportedly said the aging Prince Charles was partly his inspiration for abdicating in favour of Crown Prince Felipe (left). He was reported to have said: 'I do not want my son to wither waiting like Prince Charles'
JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images
5/10 Reforming capitalism
In May, the Prince of Wales spoke at a major conference about reforming capitalism - despite being advised not to speak on matters of public controversy. Charles' comments over the course of the month had reignited debate about the British monarchy
6/10 Putin 'acting like Hitler'
Prince Charles was claimed to have compared the actions of Russian leader Vladimir Putin to those of Adolf Hitler during a private conversation with a woman who had fled the Nazis
7/10 Australia? Take it or leave it
In April the veteran Australian journalist David Marr said the Prince of Wales once privately expressed his belief that if Australia became a republic it would be 'no skin off anyone's nose'
8/10 Satanic Verses
Prince Charles turned his back on Sir Salman Rushdie during his fatwa over publication of The Satanic Verses because he thought the book was offensive to Muslims, it was reported earlier this year. The claims were made by Martin Amis, who said Charles told him that he would not offer support 'if someone insults someone else’s deepest convictions'
Prince Charles has reportedly pushed for further research on the NHS about homeopathic remedies for a number of years. Labour MPs reacted with fury at the revelation in July 2013 that the heir to the throne had met Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, with NHS support for homeopathy believed to be on the agenda
10/10 The 'black spider letters'
The Guardian has been trying for years to secure the release of a series of 'particularly frank' letters written by Prince Charles to senior Government figures. In October 2012, the attorney-general Dominic Grieve overruled a court's decision to allow access but now, barring a successful appeal to the Supreme Court, Charles's correspondence will be revealed at last
“Charles is a serial hypocrite,” said Graham Smith, head of the pressure group Republic. “There is no justification for flying around in helicopters. You’re not going to convince a family of four to cut down on car use when a prince is flying around the country by helicopter.”
It is not the first time Charles, who is the UK president of the World Wildlife Fund, has had his environmental credentials called into question.
In 2010 the Prince embarked on a tour of the UK to promote sustainable living and emphasise the importance of walking and cycling. Green groups attacked the £50,000 tax-payer-funded on a nine-carriage royal train.
A statement released by Clarence House said: “The charitable engagement at Guards Polo Club was fitted into a packed diary at relatively short notice. The Prince had a number of personal commitments after a heavy week of public engagements and his mode of transport was chosen so that no one was let down and limited time available could be maximised.
“The Prince of Wales carries out over 650 public engagements a year. A number of factors are taken into consideration when deciding which form of travel to use... including security, punctuality and logistics.”