Britain’s Prince William joined his father, Prince Charles, at a conference at St. James’s Palace in saying that “stamping out the illegal wildlife trade needs to be placed very near the top of the global agenda. And it needs to be addressed by world leaders as urgent priority”.
Noble words. And William has already lent his voice to the protection of the rhinos of Africa, where 668 of the animals were poached in 2012, compared to just 13 in 2007, and to the cause of the elephants, who are being felled at the rate of about 30,000 a year.
Trouble is, the British royals, helped set all this in motion, and have long been avid hunters themselves.
Here’s William on one of his own hunting expeditions:
Here are his grandparents in India in 1961 – Queen Elizabeth in front, second from left, and Philip far left, with a dead tiger:
And here are Princes Charles and Harry – Harry in hunting fatigues, and Charles to his right – on an outing in Scotland, where, according to The Spine, Harry, armed with an assault rifle, bagged more than 30 birds:
Asked if he thought using an SA80 assault rifle, capable of firing 650 rounds per second, gave him much of an advantage, Harry replied: ‘My father told me that if I didn’t have an unfair advantage, there wouldn’t be much point my being royal would there?
Prince Charles’ more traditional double-barreled shotgun was carried by the traditional double-barreled aide, whilst Prince Philip’s gun remained unloaded for much of the shoot as he preferred to knock birds out of the air with the force of his scattergun opinion. ‘Bloody rotten peasants,’ he was heard to shout, though his words might have been misheard as they were drowned out by gunfire, as Harry turned his laser-guided sights on a final grouse of the day.
At the conference, Prince Charles joined his son, William, in pleading for an end to the massacre:
“It is surely unthinkable that these creatures, which have roamed the planet for thousands, if not millions, of years, could disappear completely within a decade, or even less. As a father and a soon-to-be grandfather, I find it inconceivable that our children and grandchildren live in a world bereft of these animals.
“Humanity is less than humanity without the rest of creation. Their destruction will diminish us all.”
For sure, anything these folks want to say now to undo the terrible damage their kind have inflicted upon the other animals is welcome. But even more welcome, and more powerful, would be a confession that they, just like those who are hunting the elephants and rhinos to extinction, have the blood of the world’s most iconic animals on their hands.