Prince Harry praises Prince Philip as 'conservation champion' as he lends his voice to Earth Day video

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·5 min read
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 31: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince Harry and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh attend the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final match between New Zealand and Australia at Twickenham Stadium on October 31, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Pool/Indigo/Getty Images)
Harry, here with Philip in 2015 in Twickenham, said his late grandfather was a conservation champion. (Max Mumby/Pool/Indigo/Getty Images)

Prince Harry has praised his grandfather's record on conservation in his first public remarks since attending Prince Philip's funeral in Windsor.

Harry, 36, who returned to his California home on Monday 19 April, said Philip had been a "conservation champion" as he launched a video for one of his charities, African Parks.

The Duke of Sussex lent his voice to a re-release of the charity's video Hope Starts Here, to mark Earth Day.

He has worked with the conservation charity since 2016 and is currently helping them get to 30 managed parks by 2030. It currently manages 19 across 11 countries in Africa.

Releasing the video with the new narration, Prince Harry said: "As we now begin to move towards an era of global recovery and regeneration, it’s critical that we continue to look at the strengthening and protecting of biodiversity, not just as a value we hold - but as a responsibility that is vital to our way of life.

"On this Earth Day, I reflect on generations of conservation champions, including my late grandfather, and feel proud and energised to continue doing my part in this legacy. This year especially, I join the incredible African Parks team and communities around the world in shared dedication to our environment and collective wellbeing."

CHOBE NATIONAL PARK, BOTSWANA - SEPTEMBER 26: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex helps to plant trees at the Chobe Tree Reserve in Botswana, on day four of their tour of Africa on September 26, 2019 in Chobe National Park, Botswana. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski - Pool /Getty Images)
Prince Harry helped to plant trees at the Chobe Tree Reserve in Botswana, in 2019. (Dominic Lipinski - Pool /Getty Images)

Read more: Chrissy Teigen reveals Meghan Markle wrote to her after she lost baby Jack: ‘She's been so kind'

Harry's voiceover explains the importance of adequately resourcing National Parks and Protected Areas so they can deliver essential services like clean air, and water and food security.

He says: "These vital landscapes are helping to safeguard Africa's biodiversity, serving as a foundation for a healthy planet and delivering benefits to hundreds of thousands of people.

"By preventing poaching and the wildlife trade we are protecting species at their source and our global health and wellbeing."

He adds: "Hope starts here, with the places we are protecting now to ensure a healthy future for us all."

Watch: Prince Harry returns to US

Prince Philip's record on conservation has been praised over the last two weeks since the announcement of his death on 9 April.

Sir David Attenborough said of the royal: "His importance to conservation worldwide has been absolutely huge.

"You can go anywhere in the world and he will know where you have to make the connection, where you have to put the pressure, what you have to do. He’s very practical in those terms."

However the late Duke of Edinburgh also had to defend himself at times, as his own love of shooting seemed incongruous with his conservation efforts.

Answering questions about shooting a tiger while in India in 1961, he said he had put the animal out of its misery as it was injured.

Discussing his support of fox hunting and culling of animals in Britain in 2011, he said: "I think that there’s a difference between being concerned for the conservation of nature and being a bunny-hugger.

"When I was president of the WWF, I got more letters from people about the way animals were treated in zoos than about any concern for the survival of a species. People can’t get their heads around the idea of a species surviving, you know, they’re more concerned about how you treat a donkey in Sicily or something."

Despite those apparent controversies, the late duke's appreciation of the "web of life" has passed down through his family - with his son Prince Charles, and both Prince William and Harry, making it a key part of their work over the years.

TOPSHOT - Duke of Sussex Prince Harry (L) talks with British Soldiers and Malawian game rangers of Liwonde national park after he observed demonstrations on how to fight poaching following a memorial service at the place where British guardsman Matthew Talbot, 22, of the Coldstream Guards, was killed in C-IWT Operation a few months ago, at Liwonde National park on September 30, 2019. - Gdsm Talbot was killed by an elephant who charged at him. (Photo by Amos GUMULIRA / AFP) (Photo by AMOS GUMULIRA/AFP via Getty Images)
Prince Harry talking to British Soldiers and Malawian game rangers of Liwonde national park after he observed demonstrations on how to fight poaching in 2019. (Amos Gumulira/AFP)

Read more: The Queen's birthplace is now a Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant

Peter Fearnhead, chief executive of African Parks, said: "While we created African Parks 20 years ago to address the challenge of failing protected areas in Africa, today we see these effectively managed landscapes helping to address some of the most pressing challenges of our times, including climate change, pandemics, security and human wellbeing.

"Alongside the dedication and commitment of Prince Harry, and with our transformational funders and all our Government partners, we are realising the value of these wild areas by ensuring that the people who live within or around them truly benefit from them being conserved. It is a sure way forward in helping to create a sustainable future for local communities, and for our planet."

Prince Harry spent about a week and a half in the UK as he travelled back to Windsor for his grandfather's funeral, which was held on 17 April.

He was spotted chatting to his brother, Prince William, after the service, the first time they had been together since the explosive interview Harry and his wife Meghan did with Oprah Winfrey in March.

However Meghan and Harry's biographer Omid Scobie said the talks had done little more than break the ice.

Harry is next expected in the UK on 1 July for the unveiling of a statue for his late mother, Princess Diana.

Watch: Princess Diana's former butler says Prince Harry will be 'torn' when he returns to the US