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Charles puts staff on bikes in bid to become 'green prince'

November 16, 2006


Prince Charles has told some of his staff to use bicycles in the fight against global warming. He is even prepared to travel to London by commuter train from a station near Highgrove.

Charles wants to be remembered as the "Green Prince" and is making a personal statement by planning a radical shake-up of his travel plans.

It comes after the Government outlined its Climate Change Bill and follows David Cameron's calls for a legal limit on harmful carbon emissions.

Charles will stop using royal helicopters and private jets on official engagements whenever possible.

He intends to make more use of the royal train and has ordered his chauffeurs to leave their cars behind and travel by bicycle when they check arrangements ahead of his appointments in London.

Charles has also told aides to find a more environmentally friendly fuel for his fleet of cars.

He has even suggested commuting to London on the train from Kemble station in Gloucestershire instead of driving or going by helicopter.

The Prince wants the new system in place for him and Camilla by February. But it is causing a headache for palace staff and some senior courtiers fear his green plans could embarrass the Queen and other members of the royal family who continue to use helicopters and jets.

Other senior palace figures have warned him that while they agree with his bold plan in principle it could prove difficult to implement logistically. They claim the security implications could also prove difficult.

It is understood that Charles's office at Clarence House had planned to unveil the radical changes at a showpiece media briefing but it was put on hold while aides try to smooth over the " contradictions".

One senior figure said: "He wants to be known as the Green Prince and to leave what he calls a small carbon footprint and there is a lot of support for that. But there has been quite a bit of hairpulling over this one.

The source said: "It is all well and good saying we have to go totally green but there are a lot of difficulties involved in sorting this out and smoothing away the contradictions.

"After all, this is a man who repeatedly warns about global warning yet he owns a classic Aston Martin and flies on private aircraft around the world." The move will put the Prince in direct conflict with other royals - particularly the Duke of York who has been called Air Miles Andy for his frequent use of royal flights.

In the past Charles has been stung by criticism of his spending on royal travel - last year his trip to the US cost the taxpayer more than £500,000. The travel bill alone for the week-long trip came to £330,000 after the couple flew to New York on a private jet.

The increased use of the royal train - a favourite mode of transport for Charles, its biggest user, will come under close scrutiny as it is hugely expensive to run.

Royal accounts for 2005-06 show that a single journey for Charles and Camilla in October last year from Euston to Burnley cost the taxpayer £16,491. The return trip by helicopter to Buckingham Palace cost £7,849. Another trip to Northampton cost £22,931.

Some senior MPs have called for the royal train to be scrapped. They want the Queen and Charles to lease a train from a commercial operator when necessary or attach a private carriage to an ordinary train.

In 2002 Edward Leigh, as chairman of the public accounts committee, said: "The days of the royal train are numbered." But it was given a reprieve despite costing an average £35,000 per trip - twice the price of royal air travel.

Charles has been outspoken on the threat of climate change through global warming. He even took his message to the White House. He delivered a stinging rebuke of America's record on the environment in front of President Bush.

In a rare TV interview, he told CBS: "If you look at the latest figures on climate change and global warming ... they're terrifying." In the past President Bush has questioned the existence of global warming and the US has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol designed to limit greenhouse gas emissions, saying it would harm their economy.

But Tony Blair, along with Mr Cameron, have backed green taxes and insisted Britain must take the lead on saving the planet.



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