Prince William tells space tourists: Fix Earth instead

LONDON • Britain's Prince William has launched an attack on space tourism, urging more attention on problems closer to home ahead of the COP26 climate summit.

The comments by Queen Elizabeth II's grandson were aired in a BBC interview yesterday, a day after Star Trek star William Shatner became a real space traveller on Blue Origin's second crewed mission.

The mission replayed the company's maiden human flight in July, which included its founder Jeff Bezos of Amazon and was seen as a breakthrough for the emerging space tourism sector.

But Prince William said: "We need some of the world's greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet, not trying to find the next place to go and live."

Virgin Galactic, which offers a similar experience of a few minutes' weightlessness and a view of the Earth's curvature from the cosmos, launched its founder Richard Branson in July, a few days before Mr Bezos.

Prince William was speaking ahead of the inaugural Earthshot Prize awards ceremony on Sunday, his initiative to honour those working on environmental solutions.

Looking ahead to the COP26 summit in Glasgow, which begins on Oct 31, he warned world leaders against "clever speak, clever words, but not enough action".

"It would be an absolute disaster if (son) George is sat here talking to you... in like 30 years' time, still saying the same thing, because by then, we will be too late."

Prince William's father Prince Charles, a lifelong environmentalist, has also spoken out on the need for action from the leaders rather than words in the build-up to the United Nations climate summit.

"I want the things that I've enjoyed - the outdoor life, nature, the environment - I want that to be there for my children, and not just my children but everyone else's children," Prince William said.

"If we're not careful, we're robbing from our children's future through what we do now. And I think that's not fair."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2021, with the headline 'Prince William tells space tourists: Fix Earth instead'. Subscribe