Sir Elton John today confirmed he had paid for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to fly to and from his £15million mansion in Nice by private jet for a holiday ‘inside the safety and tranquillity of our home’.
The 72-year-old singer claimed he had ensured Prince Harry and Meghan’s flight to and from the French Riviera last week were carbon neutral by making the ‘appropriate contribution’ to a carbon footprint fund.
His intervention comes after the royal couple found themselves embroiled in another hypocrisy row today after being pictured leaving the south of France on Saturday in a fourth trip by private jet in just 11 days.
Sir Elton John today confirmed in an Instagram post that he had paid for Harry and Meghan to fly to and from his mansion
The Duke of Sussex is pictured stepping on board the aircraft at Nice Airport, in another trip by the royals by private jet
Prince Harry and Meghan are pictured stepping on board a private jet on Saturday, having arrived in France three days earlier
The visit to France which ended on Saturday was Prince Harry and Meghan’s second Mediterranean holiday of the summer
Harry and Meghan have been outspoken on environmental issues in recent months despite still travelling by private jet
The private jet carrying the Duke and Duchess of Sussex takes off from Nice Airport on Saturday at about 3pm local time
How Harry and Meghan’s huge seven-ton carbon footprint could cost just £170 to offset
Harry and Meghan’s trip to Nice was estimated to have had a carbon footprint of just over three tons.
The private jet generated an estimated seven times the emissions per person compared to a commercial flight, on which even a business class seat would be more carbon efficient.
This was on top of their Ibiza trip this month which was believed to have had a footprint of more than four tons.
Daren Howarth, the founder of C-Level, another carbon offsetting organisation, told the Telegraph that the figure might be closer to 12 tonnes for the Nice trip alone.
He estimated that each passenger on a private jet emits 0.6 tons of CO2 for each hour flown and therefore the four-hour return flight works out at 2.4 tons of CO2 per passenger.
He calculated, on the basis of five people flying in the jet, a total of 12 tonnes of CO2, which would cost just £168 to offset.
Sir Elton did not vouchsafe how much he contributed to Carbon Footprint.
Harry and Meghan, who have been outspoken on environmental issues in recent months, generated an estimated seven times the emissions per person compared to a commercial flight when flying home from Nice.
Photographs of the royal couple and three-month-old Archie showed the family stepping on board the Cessna 680 Citation Sovereign jet on Saturday at about 3pm local time, having arrived in France three days earlier.
Royal experts said the British public do not want to be ‘lectured on climate change by those who don’t do follow their own advice’, while MPs said the trips do not ‘fit with their public image’ they project as eco-warriors.
The couple visited the £15million palatial home of Castel Mont-Alban owned by Sir Elton John and his husband David Furnish overlooking the Promenade des Anglais during their holiday to the French Riviera.
The trip to Nice came shortly after Harry and Meghan, who married in May last year, had returned by private jet to the UK from Ibiza after a six-night break on the Spanish island to mark the Duchess’s 38th birthday.
Meanwhile, also this afternoon, the Duke and Duchess sparked fury among some of their followers on Instagram by posting a quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu about doing ‘your little bit of good’.
The quote read: ‘Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.’ But one of their followers said: ‘How about less gaz guzzling air travel?’
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex speak with Sir Elton John at The Lion King premiere in London’s Leicester Square on July 14
Last Wednesday, Meghan was pictured holding baby Archie as she stepped off the private jet upon their arrival in Nice
Prince Harry was also seen disembarking from the private plane in Nice last Wednesday wearing a baseball cap
Off-setting scheme supported by Elton John ‘will have no meaningful effect on climate change’
Greenpeace’s chief scientist has said it is ‘not okay’ to claim that private jet travel is ‘carbon neutral’ as a result of a donation to a carbon offset scheme.
Sr Doug Parr told MailOnline: ‘There’s no way any current tech deals with the load of CO2 you’ve released on a personal level’.
Sir Elton John responded to criticism of Harry and Meghan’s recent private jet vacations by insisting he had made a donation to offset the carbon cost of the trips.
The royal couple’s return flights in private jets from England to Ibiza, and then from England to Nice, generated an estimated seven tonnes of CO2.
Sir Elton wrote: ‘To support Prince Harry’s commitment to the environment, we ensured their flight was carbon neutral, by making the appropriate contribution to Carbon Footprint™.’
Carbon Footprint is a UK registered company run by John and Wendy Buckley, which provides advice to individuals and businesses on how to reduce their carbon footprint, and channels funding to schemes designed to offset carbon emissions.
These projects include the planting of trees or the reduction of Brazilian deforestation.
According to Carbon Positive Life a single tree can absorb as much as 48 lbs (21.77 kgs) of CO2 per year, meaning it would take 321 years to absorb seven tonnes, although it could cost as little as £170 to offset.
However in common with many carbon offset firms, many of the schemes run by Carbon Footprint focus on other ways to put in place systems, especially in developing countries, which stop carbon dioxide – which would otherwise have been released into the atmosphere – from being released.
One scheme is focused on identifying and repairing broken boreholes in Uganda – so local communities get access to safe drinking water and, as a result, do not have to cut trees and burn firewood to boil and purify their drinking water in future.
Another scheme distributes efficient cooking stoves to villagers in Kenya, where more than 80 per cent of the population relies on burning wood and charcoal to cook, producing a large amount of CO2.
Carbon Footprint believes that scheme has helped more than 96,000 people, prevented deforestation, provided protection from lung cancer and reduced global CO2 emission by 17,970 tonnes of CO2 per year in comparison to where those levels would otherwise be.
Dr Parr said of the projects funded by the firm to which Sir Elton donated: ‘They’re not wrong things to be done, but they’re not the answer that’s meaningful in terms of the climate challenge we face.’
Another said: ‘Time to ‘reign’ in your gas guzzling, hippocratic [sic] ways! You personally are destroying our planet more than any of the average citizens. Don’t you dare ever preach to us again about climate change.’
Last Wednesday, Harry and Meghan had arrived in France on a 12-seater Cessna aircraft, despite there being more than 20 scheduled commercial flights from London to Nice each Wednesday costing as little as £100 each.
The Cessna plane would have cost more than £20,000 to hire, meaning Harry and Meghan could have taken 200 flights to Nice for the same price.
The visit to France came after their first Mediterranean holiday of the summer – a trip to Ibiza which saw them fly out on August 6 before returning last Monday. Both journeys were again made by private jet.
Veteran royal watcher Phil Dampier told MailOnline today: ‘Whether you think recent criticism of Harry and Meghan is fair or not it’s worrying to me that they don’t seem to care and aren’t about to change their behaviour.
‘They must have known that taking private jets four times in quick succession would leave them open to charges of hypocrisy but they just went ahead and did it anyway.
‘They are not unique – other royals have taken private jets, but they have been criticised over the years as well. I certainly don’t believe they are getting a bad press because the British public are racist.
‘It is simply that people don’t like to be lectured on climate change by those who don’t do follow their own advice.’
The author of ‘Royally Suited: Harry and Meghan In Their Own Words’ added: ‘Some families slave away all year to afford one nice holiday and they shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about harming the planet when Harry and Meghan are swanning about in luxury.’
Meanwhile Paul Morozzo, a climate campaigner for Greenpeace UK, told MailOnline: ‘An airliner is over ten times as polluting as a modern train, and private jets are ten times more polluting still.
‘It’s vitally important that all frequent fliers reduce the number of flights they take if we are to confront the climate emergency, and that means the last thing we should be doing is building new runways anywhere in the UK.’
Labour MP Teresa Pearce said: ‘Given the position they have taken publicly about being responsible on climate change, this does seem an anomaly which they should look at.
‘I find this quite surprising because it doesn’t fit with their public image and the way they’re so concerned about the planet and the environment.’
Ken Wharfe, an ex-royal protection officer who guarded Princess Diana, said: ‘Frankly it’s hypocritical. Harry can’t be preaching about the catastrophic effects of climate change while jetting around the world on a private plane.’
Kensington Palace declined to comment on Harry and Meghan’s trip when contacted by MailOnline today.
Friends of the Earth climate change campaigner Aaron Kiely said last week: ‘The Duke of Sussex speaks wonderful and stirring words on the environment and then he flies off on holiday to a European destination in a private jet.
The Duke and Duchess sparked fury among some of their followers on Instagram by posting a quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu about doing ‘your little bit of good’
Sir Elton wrote in an Instagram post this afternoon that Harry’s late mother Princess Diana was one of his ‘dearest friends’ and he feels a ‘profound sense of obligation to protect Harry and his family’.
PHIL DAMPIER: ‘People don’t like to be lectured on climate change by those who don’t do follow their own advice’
‘Whether you think recent criticism of Harry and Meghan is fair or not it’s worrying to me that they don’t seem to care and aren’t about to change their behaviour.
‘They must have known that taking private jets three times in quick succession would leave them open to charges of hypocrisy but they just went ahead and did it anyway.
‘They are not unique – other royals have taken private jets, but they have been criticised over the years as well.
‘I certainly don’t believe they are getting a bad press because the British public are racist.
‘It is simply that people don’t like to be lectured on climate change by those who don’t do follow their own advice.
‘Some families slave away all year to afford one nice holiday and they shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about harming the planet when Harry and Meghan are swanning about in luxury.
‘It’s really sad to see all the goodwill that people had towards this couple disappear in such a short space of time.
‘They really need to understand quickly the damage they are doing and take steps to turn it around.
‘They could start by taking on some of the 1500 patronages of the Queen and Prince Philip, and get out there and do some run-of-the-mill royal jobs and shake a few hands.
‘Meghan gives the impression she wants to live like a Hollywood star protected by publicists, agents and lawyers and that’s not how the royal family works.
‘It only survives because there is give and take and the public- who are paying for it – want it to succeed.
‘If they lose the public’s support they are in trouble.’
Phil Dampier is a veteran royal watcher and the author of Royally Suited: Harry and Meghan In Their Own Word
‘He could have taken a train and then a boat. This would have been the perfect opportunity to set an environmental example.’
On August 6, the first day of the holiday to Ibiza, the only private plane travelling to Ibiza from Farnborough Airport was a Gulfstream 200, which can hold up to 19 people.
It left at 7.49am UK time and touched down on the Balearic island at 10.49am local time.
Six days later, on Monday of last week, a nine-seater Cessna 500 XL, owned by NetJets, left Ibiza at 10.14am local time and landed at Farnborough at 11.20am UK time and is understood to have been carrying the royals.
At least one leg of the journey is understood to have been booked through NetJets, which has earned the nicknames ‘Hertz For Heirs’ or ‘Uber for billionaires’ because it serves the wealthy.
It is not known who paid for the flights, which would have cost around £20,000 return. But NetJets are linked to Harry’s close friend Nacho Figueras, an Argentine sportsman known as the ‘David Beckham of polo’.
Mr Figeuras is understood to own one of the jets and often uses his social media profiles to promote them. It is also possible they may have borrowed a private jet from a friend whose plane is managed by a hire company.
NetJets has 750 planes for hire worldwide and boasts of offering an ‘unmatched experience’ to rich clients.
Once in Ibiza, the couple stayed in the Vista Alegre gated complex of sea-facing mansions and were guarded by British and Spanish state security personnel.
There was also anger at the lack of transparency surrounding the trip, with royal representatives refusing to disclose how much it cost taxpayers.
A source on the island told MailOnline the royals landed in Ibiza on August 6 with several taxpayer-funded Metropolitan Police bodyguards.
They added that five close protection officers from the Spanish security forces joined the group escorting them to their private villa.
The most expensive villas overlooking the azure waters of Ibiza’s Porroig Bay are listed at £20,000 per week, but the price of others on enquiry rises to £120,000 per week, reported the Sun.
Buckingham Palace claimed that it was a private matter and declined to comment.
Harry and Meghan are believed to have visited the £15million palatial home of Castel Mont-Alban owned by Sir Elton John
In September’s edition of Vogue, guest edited by Meghan, Harry said the couple would only have two children for the sake of the environment. The Duke of Sussex is pictured with ethologist Dr Jane Goodall who also appears in the issue
Harry and Meghan’s trip to France was estimated to have had a carbon footprint of just over three tons and their earlier trip to Ibiza was believed to have had a footprint of more than four tons. The carbon footprint of an average person in the UK is 13 tons a year.
Meanwhile, it was reported last week that Harry and Meghan asked the Queen if they could live in Windsor Castle when they were planning their life together.
She was said to have politely, but firmly, suggested that they move to Frogmore Cottage instead.
The couple’s decision to use a private jet for their Ibiza trip means the journey would have emitted six times more carbon dioxide per person than a scheduled flight from London to the Spanish island.
The flights there and back would have given out 12.5 tons of carbon dioxide. There are around 14 scheduled flights from London and the South East to Ibiza each day.
Sir Elton John’s full post on Instagram defending the Duke and Duchess
‘I am deeply distressed by today’s distorted and malicious account in the press surrounding the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s private stay at my home in Nice last week.
‘Prince Harry’s Mother, Diana Princess of Wales was one of my dearest friends. I feel a profound sense of obligation to protect Harry and his family from the unnecessary press intrusion that contributed to Diana’s untimely death.
‘After a hectic year continuing their hard work and dedication to charity, David and I wanted the young family to have a private holiday inside the safety and tranquillity of our home.
‘To maintain a high level of much-needed protection, we provided them with a private jet flight. To support Prince Harry’s commitment to the environment, we ensured their flight was carbon neutral, by making the appropriate contribution to Carbon Footprint™.
‘I highly respect and applaud both Harry and Meghan’s commitment to charity and I’m calling on the press to cease these relentless and untrue assassinations on their character that are spuriously crafted on an almost daily basis.’
Their choice of transport flew in the face of their frequent public pronouncements on green issues.
In an interview published in the September issue of Vogue with conservationist Jane Goodall, Harry revealed that he and Meghan wanted a ‘maximum’ of two children because of environmental concerns.
The issue was guest-edited by the Duchess and she chose climate change activist Greta Thunberg as one of her ‘forces for change’ to be put on the front cover.
Greta, 16, travelled to New York from England by boat because she refuses to travel by plane.
The couple’s string of private-jet flights also comes after Harry attended a ‘green summit’ organised by tech giant Google in Sicily at the end of July where he delivered an impassioned speech on saving the environment.
He was reportedly barefoot as he gave his lecture to VIPs and power-brokers. However, it was claimed Google paid for his flights and a helicopter to a luxury resort where he is said to have stayed on a gas-guzzling super-yacht.
Other Royals have used cheap airlines for their flights alongside the public. Prince Harry boarded a Wizz Air flight from Luton to Transylvania in 2012 and in 2015 Prince William, 37, used a Ryanair plane to get to Scotland.
In 2011 he was also joined by wife Kate, also 37, on a Flybe flight to Zara and Mike Tindall’s wedding.
The yellow palace where ‘King’ Elton John welcomed Meghan Markle, Prince Harry and Archie: Singer’s £15m villa overlooking Nice where he relaxes with his sons and entertains celebrity pals including the Beckhams
It’s a palatial property fit for royals – and certainly lived up to the billing when Sir Elton John hosted the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at his £15million residence last week.
The 72-year-old singer often spends the summer months at his home of Castel Mont-Alban overlooking Nice on the French Riviera with his husband David Furnish and their two sons Zachary, eight, and Elijah, six.
Sir Elton has previously hosted the likes of David and Victoria Beckham, comedian David Walliams and actor couple Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka at the property which was once dubbed his ‘Pink Villa’.
Sir Elton John’s stunning home Castel Mont-Alban overlooks Nice on the French Riviera and is worth about £15million
Sir Elton and his husband David Furnish (left) are good friends with actor couple Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka (right). The couples are pictured together with their two children each while on the French Riviera last summer
Sir Elton has hosted the likes of David and Victoria Beckham at his property in Nice. They are pictured together last summer
Sir Elton and his Canadian filmmaker husband Mr Furnish are pictured with their sons in Nice in the summer last year
He bought the Belle Epoque villa surrounded by the green spaces of Mont Boron in the 1990s and locals have described it as the ‘Bel Air of Nice’ thanks to the concentration of multimillion-pound mansions in the area.
It can be seen from the Promenade des Anglais below, and local interior designer Bjarni Breidfjord said: ‘It’s quite unique for a celebrity like him to have bought here. No other celebrities live up there. He is king of that hill.’
Sir Elton is known to enjoy staying in the exclusive area of France’s Côte d’Azur and received the Legion d’Honneur, the country’s highest civilian award, from President Emmanuel Macron just two months ago.
Burtka previously said: ‘Elton is a little more uptight in his real world, but in Nice he just relaxes. He’s so fun and he laughs with his kids and has a good time. He just forgets about the madness of his life.’
Sir Elton’s home is just a 20-mile drive away from Cannes, where the annual film festival is held, and he is said to enjoy tending to his plants in the garden of the property, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The property was built in the 1920s and adapted by Sir Elton with designers Fred Dilger and Monique Gibson. The pool now features Egyptian Deco statues of the four seasons, while his bedroom has an Andy Warhol panting.
Ms Gibson previously told Architectural Digest: ‘It was pink for a while, then we painted it yellow. That’s very much Elton’s spirit: ‘I’ve enjoyed it pink; let’s love it yellow.’ Everything is always changing.’
The home can be seen from the Promenade des Anglais, the famed promenade along the Mediterranean at Nice (file image)
Sir Elton often stays at the home in summer with his husband David Furnish and their two sons Zachary, eight, and Elijah, six
The home is also said to feature a tower room overlooking the Mediterranean, a metal mask sculpture by Roy Lichtenstein and slipcovers for the chairs with co-ordinate with 14 sets of china.
Sir Elton is one of many celebrities who enjoy Nice as a playground of the rich – with others including actress Dame Joan Collins, U2 frontman Bono, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, actor Sean Connery and singer Tina Turner.
The singer entered into a civil partnership with Canadian filmmaker Mr Furnish, 56, in December 2005, before tying the knot when same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales in March 2014.
How Princess Diana’s pal Elton John became a confidante of her son Prince Harry and surprised guests at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding with a rendition of Circle Of Life
Sir Elton John’s revelation today that he paid for Harry and Meghan’s private jet holiday and that the royal couple stayed in his mansion in Nice is only the latest chapter of the story of Elton’s life in royal circles.
Over the years the Rocket Man singer has danced with the Queen, sung at royal weddings and funerals, and of course famously had a long and close friendship with Harry’s mother Diana, which he referenced in his Instagram post today.
Since the 1970s Elton John has been friends with the royals with both Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother being big fans of his music. He attended art events with Margaret and was a regular at Charles’ Prince Trust annual concerts.
And then at a lavish party in Windsor in 1981 for Prince Andrew’s wedding, as he told a biographer: ‘When I arrived, there was no one there but the dance band and Princess Diana. We danced the Charleston alone on the floor for 20 minutes.
‘Then Princess Anne came up to me and said, ‘Would you like to dance?’ What am I going to say — ‘No, f- off?’
File photo dated 1985 of the Princess of Wales meeting Elton John during the Live Aid concert in aid of the African famine at Wembley Stadium
The singer went on: ‘As we’re bobbing up and down, the Queen comes up with an equerry and says, ‘Do you mind if we join you?’ Just at that moment, the music segues into Bill Haley’s ‘Rock Around the Clock.’ So I’m dancing to ‘Rock Around the Clock’ with the Queen of England.’
After the party his friendship with Diana grew and he first met a young Prince Harry at a private lunch at Kensington Palace, given by his mother Princess Diana for Gianni Versace and Elton in the 1990s.
The pair had a royal falling out subsequent to the publication of the coffee table book he co-created with Gianni Versace, Rock and Royalty.
Pictures of members of the royal family, including one of the Princess and the boys, appeared amid a portfolio of semi-nude male models, and Diana feared that would upset the Queen. Royalties from the book benefited John’s Aids foundation.
But the pair reconciled after Versace’s assassination. In July of 1997 the designer was shot and killed in front of his Miami Beach home and the following week Diana comforted their mutual friend Elton at Versace’s funeral.
The Princess of Wales being greeted by singer Elton John for the charity premiere of the musical ‘Tango Argentina’ at the Aldwych Theatre, London, in aid of National Aids Trust and Aids Crisis Trust
Later that same summer, Diana herself had died, in a car crash in a Parisian tunnel which shocked the world.
Elton rewrote his Marilyn Monroe-inspired classic Candle In The Wind in honour of his friends, and Candle In the Wind 97, or Goodbye England’s Rose shot to number 1 and won Elton a Grammy, raising millions for charity.
He sang it at the funeral, telling the Telegraph: ‘What was going through my mind was ‘Don’t sing a wrong note. Be stoic. Don’t break down and just do it to the best you can possibly do it without showing any emotion whatsoever’
‘My heart was beating quite a lot, I have to say.’
Two years ago Sir Elton led the tributes tributes to the Princess of Wales by posting a picture on Instagram of the pair together, with his arm around the Princess writing: ’20 years ago today, the world lost an angel. RIP.’
The star famously performed an alternative version of his poignant song Candle In The Wind in honour of Diana at her 1997 funeral, held just days after she was killed in a Paris car crash.
Prince Harry later revealed that the song touched him on the day, telling a BBC documentary: ‘Elton John’s song was incredibly emotional, that was part of this whole trigger system which nearly brought me to the point of crying in public, which I’m glad I didn’t do.’
Tthe Duke of Sussex with Sir Elton John during the Aids 2018 summit in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Sir Elton has said he provided the Duke and Duchess of Sussex with a private jet flight to his home in Nice to give the royal couple a “high level of much-needed protection’
He and David Furnish attended William and Kate’s wedding despite only having met the couple a handful of times and last year he performed at the lunchtime reception for guests celebrating the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Prince Harry asked Sir Elton to perform at the reception which was hosted by Her Majesty The Queen at St George’s Hall, Windsor Castle.
The pop icon sang Circle of Life – made famous by the 1994 Disney film The Lion King – and Tiny Dancer.
And last year the singer collaborated with the Duke of Sussex again. Attending the International AIDS Conference together for at least the second time, this time in Amsterdam, the two announced a new effort to continue their fight against AIDS.
The pair launched the MenStar Coalition, an initiative aimed at targeting and preventing HIV infections in men, Harry said in his speech announcing MenStar on Tuesday.
‘I am honored to be sharing the stage with someone who has always put people at the center of his work, Sir Elton John,’ Harry said. ‘For over a quarter-century, Elton has worked tirelessly to fund research and services in communities around the world.’