It’s a father-son Valentine’s Day outing!
Prince Harry made a surprise appearance alongside his father on Wednesday as Prince Charles spoke out to highlight an important environmental cause: saving coral reefs.
Charles, 69, who has long campaigned in support of the environment, is worried about the threats to coral that would normally support huge varieties of fish and food for coastal communities.
Harry, 33, greeted his dad with a kiss on each cheek as they made a rare public appearance together at Charles’s International Sustainability Unit’s meeting. While different generations of the royal family attend major events together, they rarely share campaigns.
Harry wanted to learn more “about the work being done to protect coral reefs from threats including climate change and pollution,” Charles’s office at Clarence House said in a statement.
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Harry’s fiancée, Meghan Markle, 36, who joined him for their first visit together in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Tuesday, was not with him at the event. The couple will likely be spending a special Valentine’s evening together as neither has any public duty planned. (After all, Meghan did reveal she’s a “sucker for Valentine’s Day!”)
At the meeting, which was designed to explore efforts to make coral reefs more resilient, Charles talked about the threats from over-fishing and land-based pollution and reiterated his stance of “the scourge of plastic in the ocean,” which he says, “is causing the rapid increase of lethal coral diseases.”
“Even when set against the dire backdrop of the destruction of the tropical rainforests and the burgeoning illegal wildlife trade, the plight of the world’s coral reefs stand out in stark and desperate relief,” he said in his speech. “The speed of the ecological marine cataclysm that we have engendered is such that not only will our children be faced with the monochrome legacy of the graveyard of destroyed reefs and the collapse of marine biodiversity, but the majority of us alive today will stand witness to the process.”
“And yet – and yet – the ocean has an astonishing ability to heal itself, if given the chance,” he added. “We simply have to give it that chance, perhaps its last, for we must not only conserve what remains of these unique and vitally important ecosystems, but we must also allow nature to restore what has already been lost.”
The meeting was hosted the Prince’s International Sustainability Unit which has led the way in encouraging collaboration between sectors to improve coral reef health and resilience.
Charles’s passion for the environment is also shared by other royal families. At the Our Ocean meeting in Malta in October, Charles, Prince Albert II of Monaco and HM Queen Noor launched the Coral Reef Life Declaration, which seeks commitments from countries with significant coral reefs in their waters to protect and conserve them such that their environmental, economic, social and cultural values are preserved. Fourteen countries have signed the declaration.