Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's New York Visit Sparks Familiar Hypocrisy Allegations

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been accused of hypocrisy after flying back from New York by private jet—echoing a line of attack that dates back to summer 2019.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex had a broadly successful tour on the East Coast, speaking to crowds at Global Citizen Live about vaccine equity on Saturday, September 25.

They also met New York mayor Bill de Blasio and visited the 9/11 memorial on Thursday before Meghan read from her children's book The Bench at a school in Harlem on Friday, September 24.

However, since their return to California they have been criticised for flying home by private jet from Saturday's concert, echoing one round of bad press they received in the summer before they quit royal duties.

U.K. tabloid The Sun reported the couple took a Dassault Falcon 2000 private plane from New York to California, creating an estimated 17 tons of carbon.

The newspaper reported the average U.K. resident creates less carbon over a whole year, at 12.7 tons, citing eco firm Pawprint.

Meghan and Harry were focussed on vaccine equity during their appearance, calling for a waiver on intellectual property rights on vaccines to allow poorer countries to produce them locally.

However, the concert itself had a wider environmental message with Global Citizen calling for rich nations to fund poor ones in their fight against climate change.

Royal expert Penny Junor told the newspaper: "I do think this is hypocrisy. I'm sure there were plenty of scheduled flights."

She added: "I do not understand why they are behaving as if they are superstars. His father has been known to take scheduled flights. His brother takes scheduled flights.

"This totally muddies the waters of their climate message. They are shooting themselves in the foot by taking private flights."

The Sun were not the only newspaper to report the story after their coverage was widely picked up by other tabloids and also stablemate The Times, Rupert Murdoch's U.K. broadsheet daily.

The New York Post, now a regular critic of the couple, also covered the story—days after running a front page headline about them which read: "Clueless California tourists visit NYC."

@newyorkpost⁩ take on “H” and Meg’s “royal” tour of the Big Apple.

— Robert Jobson (@theroyaleditor) September 27, 2021

And the backlash has echoes of one of the last big rounds of negative coverage Harry and Meghan received before quitting royal duties in January 2020.

In summer 2019, Harry and Meghan were criticised for taking a series of private jets including to a Google climate change conference in Sicily, to a holiday in Ibiza and to stay with Elton John in Nice.

A post on their now defunct Sussex Royal Instagram account that July had read: "With nearly 7.7 billion people inhabiting this Earth, every choice, every footprint, every action makes a difference."

And Prince Harry had also at the time recently said he only planned to have two children for the sake of the environment, even though Prince William has three.

Biography Finding Freedom recounts how Prince Harry regretted not taking the advice of his aide Sara Latham, who had warned him there could be a backlash over the jets.

Authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand wrote: "A firestorm erupted over the so-called hypocrisy of the prince, seemingly touting the virtues of conservation while flying on gas-guzzling private jets."

They added: "[Latham] had warned him about a potential media storm if he flew back on a private jet from Google Camp, which he attended to preview [eco-tourism initiative] Travalyst. The earnest prince was the first one to admit when he had made a mistake."

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle at Global Citizen
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Global Citizen Live, in Central Park, New York, on September 25, 2021. They were accused of hypocrisy for flying home by private jet. Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Global Citizen