Prince of Wales makes his first speech in new role as he attends United for Wildlife summit

Prince William paid a touching tribute to his grandparents as he made his first public speech since the death of the Queen last month.

The new Prince of Wales, 40, spoke to delegates at the United for Wildlife Global Summit and highlighted the serious and organised nature of illegal wildlife crime and its damaging impact on local communities.

The summit, hosted by Lord Hague, Chair of The Royal Foundation of the Prince and Princess of Wales, saw a relaxed-looking William arrive at the London tourist attraction wearing a sharp, navy suit teamed with a claret-hued tie. 

Opening with a poignant acknowledgment of his family’s work for the environment and wildlife he said: ’ Our natural world is one of our greatest assets. It is a lesson I learnt from a young age, from my father and grandfather, both committed naturalists in their own right, and also from my much-missed grandmother, who cared so much for the natural world.

‘In times of loss, it is a comfort to honour those we miss through the work we do. I take great comfort then from the progress we are making to end the illegal wildlife trade.’

Prince William, 40, paid a touching tribute to his grandparents as he made his first public speech since the death of the Queen last month

Prince William, 40, paid a touching tribute to his grandparents as he made his first public speech since the death of the Queen last month

The next in line to the throne buttons a jacket on his suit as he makes his way into the summit, where he will address 300 delegates gathered from around the globe

The next in line to the throne buttons a jacket on his suit as he makes his way into the summit, where he will address 300 delegates gathered from around the globe

The late Duke of Edinburgh who died in April 2021 was a committed campaigner for the environment and was a knowledgeable naturalist and was president of the World Wildlife Fund charity.

Her Majesty the Queen was also similarly passionate about wildlife and the environment and was the patron of numerous trusts and charities.

Prince William, 40, used his speech at the Science Museum in London to highlight how ‘vicious illegal wildlife trade is’ – as he paid tribute once again to Ranger Anton Mzimba, shot dead by poachers in July at the Timbavati nature reserve in south Africa.

The two had met last November when the Prince visited the reserve and describing the killing as ‘brutal’ he added:’ The devastating news about Ranger Anton Mzimba is shocking confirmation of how vicious the illegal wildlife trade is.

The new Prince of Wales, 40, spoke to delegates at the United for Wildlife Global Summit and highlighted the serious and organised nature of illegal wildlife crime and its damaging impact on local communities

The new Prince of Wales, 40, spoke to delegates at the United for Wildlife Global Summit and highlighted the serious and organised nature of illegal wildlife crime and its damaging impact on local communities

Prince William, 40, used his speech at the Science Museum in London to highlight how ¿vicious illegal wildlife trade is¿ ¿ as he paid tribute once again to Ranger Anton Mzimba, shot dead by poachers in July at the Timbavati nature reserve in south Africa

Prince William, 40, used his speech at the Science Museum in London to highlight how ¿vicious illegal wildlife trade is¿ ¿ as he paid tribute once again to Ranger Anton Mzimba, shot dead by poachers in July at the Timbavati nature reserve in south Africa

Prince William, 40, used his speech at the Science Museum in London to highlight how ‘vicious illegal wildlife trade is’ – as he paid tribute once again to Ranger Anton Mzimba, shot dead by poachers in July at the Timbavati nature reserve in south Africa

The royal stood in front of a sign reading his new organisation name - Royal Foundation of the Prince and Princess of Wales - following his title change last month

The royal stood in front of a sign reading his new organisation name – Royal Foundation of the Prince and Princess of Wales – following his title change last month

The new Prince of Wales appeared pensive as he sat and watched the summit among other attendees earlier this afternoon in London

The new Prince of Wales appeared pensive as he sat and watched the summit among other attendees earlier this afternoon in London 

Elsewhere he appeared to be speaking passionately about the topic as he chatted to fellow attendees of the summit (pictured)

Elsewhere he appeared to be speaking passionately about the topic as he chatted to fellow attendees of the summit (pictured) 

The Prince of Wales shakes hand with delegates during the United for Wildlife (UfW) Global Summit at the Science Museum in London

The Prince of Wales shakes hand with delegates during the United for Wildlife (UfW) Global Summit at the Science Museum in London

‘Anton dedicated himself to the protection of wildlife, undertaking his role diligently and professionally despite threats to his life.

‘He stood up to violent criminals and paid the ultimate price. It is only right that we pay tribute to him and all the other selfless rangers and frontline conservationists here today.

And it is only right that we honour him by continuing our work with renewed focus and vigour.’

Officials at United for Wildlife – which was set up by Prince William in 2014 – estimate illegal trade in animals is worth up to $20 billion a year and is associated with violent crim, corruption, and other forms of trafficking.

He has long campaigned against illegal wildlife trade, previously calling for a commitment to end the ‘abhorrent crime’ which includes the poaching of elephants for ivory and tigers for their skins.

Last month when the US Department of Justice announced it had sentenced poacher Moazu Kromah (DOUBLE CORR) to five years for trafficking rhino horn and elephant ivory, worth more than $7 million, Prince William hailed it a as ‘significant victory and landmark case’.

Highlighting the fight Prince William added:’ It is, of course, a difficult mission that we commit ourselves to. The challenges often cited in fighting wildlife crime include the lack of a coordinated international response…the lack of strong criminal justice… corruption and insufficient resources.

The Prince of Wales, delivering his first speech since his new role as next in line to the throne was announced after the Queen's death on September 8th, attended the United for Wildlife (UfW) Global Summit at London's Science Museum on Tuesday

The Prince of Wales, delivering his first speech since his new role as next in line to the throne was announced after the Queen’s death on September 8th, attended the United for Wildlife (UfW) Global Summit at London’s Science Museum on Tuesday

Keen environmentalist William, 40, will deliver a keynote speech on highlighting illegal wildlife crime and its damaging impact on global biodiversity and local communities

Keen environmentalist William, 40, will deliver a keynote speech on highlighting illegal wildlife crime and its damaging impact on global biodiversity and local communities

The Prince offers a smile to well-wishers gathered at the London tourist attraction, as he adjusts his suit after exiting the royal car

The Prince offers a smile to well-wishers gathered at the London tourist attraction, as he adjusts his suit after exiting the royal car

A royal aide opens the door for Prince William, who was not joined by the Princess of Wales, as he is greeted at the Science Museum

A royal aide opens the door for Prince William, who was not joined by the Princess of Wales, as he is greeted at the Science Museum

Thoutful: But the Prince looked confident ahead of his first public address, at a conference he called 'vital' on Twitter

Thoutful: But the Prince looked confident ahead of his first public address, at a conference he called ‘vital’ on Twitter

‘But we set out to reverse that. We set out to ensure that those involved in wildlife crime face an international response as powerful and coordinated as any other serious and organised crime. To bring their sinister operations out of the shadows and to ensure that communities are equipped, empowered and supported to protect themselves and their natural world.’

Praising United for Wildlife for its fight he also sent out a warning to poachers as he said ‘You will face serious consequences.’

He went on to tell the 300 delegates including Lord Hague, former conservative party leader:’ Thanks to your collaboration and forward thinking, our activity is having a demonstrable impact.

‘And while we do not have the luxury of time, clearly we do have a proven roadmap to success and the motivation to put it into action. I hope you all leave here today energised and motivated to intensify this work.

‘Because there are still too many criminals who believe they can act with impunity. Too many lives being destroyed. And too many species on the brink of extinction due to this heinous crime.

Wearing a navy suit teamed with a claret-hued tie, the Prince attended the official engagement without the Princess of Wales (The Prince of Wales arrives at the United for Wildlife (UfW) Global Summit at the Science Museum in London on Tuesday)

Wearing a navy suit teamed with a claret-hued tie, the Prince attended the official engagement without the Princess of Wales (The Prince of Wales arrives at the United for Wildlife (UfW) Global Summit at the Science Museum in London on Tuesday)

The subject of commercial poaching and the illegal wildlife trade has been close to William's heart for many years; the Prince of Wales created the United For Wildlife charity in 2014 with The Royal Foundation

The subject of commercial poaching and the illegal wildlife trade has been close to William’s heart for many years; the Prince of Wales created the United For Wildlife charity in 2014 with The Royal Foundation

The heir to the throne looked in good spirits as he arrived in London from his Windsor home to attend the one-day summit

William is greeted at the entrance of the Science Museum in South Kensington

The heir to the throne looked in good spirits as he arrived in London from his Windsor home to attend the one-day summit. Pictured: William is greeted at the entrance of the Science Museum in South Kensington

‘So I call on all of you here today, and those involved in UfW further afield – keep breaking the mould, keep building bridges and making those game-changing connections, keep believing that this is a crime that can be ended once and for all. Because I know with your commitment, it can.’

In a tweet ahead of the conference, The Prince and Princess of Wales called the summit ‘vital’.

Created in 2014, United for Wildlife was founded by the Royal Foundation, a joint venture between the Prince and Princess of Wales and Prince Harry. 

The illegal wildlife trade is thought to be worth up to $20 billion per year, and is linked to violent crime, corruption and other forms of trafficking.

The summit sees 300 global leaders from law enforcement agencies, conservation organisations and private sector companies join forces to put a stop to the illegal wildlife trade. 

In the six years since United for Wildlife created its international transport and financial taskforces, it has been involved in 450 law enforcement cases, over 250 arrests, almost 200 seizures of wildlife products.

Prince William has long since been committed to supporting climate change causes, launching the Earthshot prize two years ago with Sir David Attenborough.

The late Duke of Edinburgh, who died in April 2021, was a committed campaigner for the environment and was a knowledgeable naturalist and was president of the World Wildlife Fund charity.

Her Majesty the Queen was also similarly passionate about wildlife and the environment and was the patron of numerous trusts and charities.

The Prince of Wales will not attend Cop27, despite his appearance at Cop26 in Glasgow in October last year

The Prince of Wales will not attend Cop27, despite his appearance at Cop26 in Glasgow in October last year

Neither King Charles nor Prince William will attend the Cop27 climate summit after reportedly being advised to stay away by Liz Truss.

The monarch was thought to be planning to make a speech at the meeting of world leaders in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, in November.

But the Prime Minister, who will also not attend, objected to his plans during an audience at Buckingham Palace last month.

And in another surprise, it has emerged that the Prince of Wales, who like his father is also an outspoken environmental campaigner, will not attend the summit – instead focusing on his Earthshot Prize.

By contrast, the royal family gathered at Cop26 in Glasgow, with the late Queen giving a heartfelt message about saving the planet. 

Travelling solo, the Prince looked relaxed as he arrived at the South London museum at lunchtime on Tuesday

Travelling solo, the Prince looked relaxed as he arrived at the South London museum at lunchtime on Tuesday

The Prince travelled to the summit for the charity he founded eight years ago in a Range Rover

Today marks the first official solo engagement for the Prince since the official period of private mourning for the Queen ended

The Prince travelled to the summit for the charity he founded eight years ago in a Range Rover. Today marks the first official solo engagement for the Prince since the official period of private mourning for the Queen ended

Neither King Charles nor Prince William will attend the Cop27 climate summit after reportedly being advised to stay away by Liz Truss. (Pictured: Camilla, Queen Consort, King Charles III, Prince William, Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales in a recent photograph

Neither King Charles nor Prince William will attend the Cop27 climate summit after reportedly being advised to stay away by Liz Truss. (Pictured: Camilla, Queen Consort, King Charles III, Prince William, Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales in a recent photograph

It comes amid growing suspicion that the Government is planning to water down or even abandon its target of ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by 2050. 

The Palace said advice had been sought by the King and was given by Miss Truss. ‘With mutual friendship and respect there was agreement that the King would not attend,’ the Palace said.

But the decision is likely to have disappointed the King, who as Prince of Wales had a long history of campaigning to reduce the effects of climate change. As heir to the throne he also had a reputation for interfering in government business, most recently expressing his distaste for the Government’s plan to send illegal immigrants to Rwanda.

After the death of his mother, friends insisted he will not cool on the issue of global warming.

Vetoed? It was speculated that the King had plans to make a speech at the upcoming Cop27 conference that would clash with the new government's watered down climate change policies, with Buckingham Palace confirming the King would not travel to Egypt for the summit next month

Vetoed? It was speculated that the King had plans to make a speech at the upcoming Cop27 conference that would clash with the new government’s watered down climate change policies, with Buckingham Palace confirming the King would not travel to Egypt for the summit next month

But as monarch he is obliged to remain politically neutral, and in his address to the nation after the Queen’s death, he acknowledged that ‘it will no longer be possible to give so much time to the… issues for which I care so deeply’.

Before his ascension to the throne last month, King Charles had indicated he would attend the 27th UN Climate Change Conference, known as Cop27, which will run from November 6 to 18.

A source told the Daily Mail there had never been any firm plans for the King to go, though he has attended previously, leading to speculation he would again this year. As all foreign visits are undertaken at the request of the British Government, advice was sought by the Palace.

The ‘unanimous’ decision, it has been suggested, is that with so many demands for the King to be deployed abroad, Cop27 would not be the ‘right occasion’ for his first overseas visit as sovereign.

Sources highlighted his address to the nation following his mother’s death, in which he stressed that he remains ‘ever mindful’ of his constitutional role in light of his change of circumstances.

As previously highlighted by the Mail, it is understood that the environment will remain central to his work as sovereign.

In 2015, he delivered the opening address at Cop21 in Paris, describing climate change as the greatest threat facing humanity.

In a hard-hitting speech the King echoed Winston Churchill by calling on ‘the few’ to take action to save the planet, urging world leaders to commit ‘trillions, not billions, of dollars’. 

He also delivered a speech at the opening ceremony of Cop26 in Glasgow last year, calling on world leaders to adopt a ‘warlike footing’ to deal with climate change. Although he will not attend Cop27 in person, it is understood he is still determined to make his presence felt, leaving the door open for a virtual appearance.

Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood said in a tweet that he hoped the King would be allowed to go to Egypt, adding that he was a ‘globally respected voice’ on the environment whose attendance would add ‘serious authority’ to the British delegation.

While Boris Johnson became an enthusiastic advocate for net zero, Miss Truss is thought to be more sceptical of the green agenda.

A government source said: ‘The Palace and the Government considered separately, and then agreed jointly, that… he is not going to be attending Cop.’

 

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