Prince William’s first speech as heir pays tribute to his ‘much-missed grandmother’ with environmental commitments

The Prince of Wales used his first speech as heir to reaffirm his commitment to environmental causes and the “war” on the illegal wildlife trade, saying he will honor the Queen through this work.

Speaking at the United for Wildlife World Summit, he spoke of the death of the Queenand the influence his grandparents and father had on his own charitable efforts.

The prince said: “Our natural world is one of our greatest assets. It’s a lesson I learned from an early age, from my father and grandfather, both naturalists committed to wholeheartedly, and also from my much-missed grandmother, who cares so much about the natural world.

“In times of loss, it is a comfort to honor those we miss through the work we do.

“So I’m very reassured by the progress we’re making to end the illegal wildlife trade.”

Reinforcing his commitment to raising awareness of the devastating impact of global crime, he said: “There are still too many criminals who believe they can act with impunity, too many lives are destroyed and too many cash are on the brink of extinction because of this heinous crime.

“[United for Wildlife] aims to ensure that those involved in wildlife crime receive an international response that is as powerful and coordinated as any other serious and organized 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.”

“There is a war going on that people don’t see”

Before delivering his speech, he spoke with Ranger Altin Gysman of the Southern Africa Wildlife College.

His colleague Anton Mzimba, head of the rangers at the Timbavati nature reserve in South Africa, whom the prince had previously met, was shot dead in front of his family this summer.

Offering his continued support, Prince William said: “There is a war going on. Not everyone really sees it.”

The organization Thin Green Line has stated that currently in the world an average of three rangers die each week.

United for Wildlife was launched by the prince in 2014.

Over the past six years, networks established between the public and private sectors have contributed to more than 450 law enforcement cases, more than 250 arrests, nearly 200 wildlife product seizures, and trained more than 100 000 people.

The event at the London Science Museum brought together 300 leading figures from business, conservation organizations and law enforcement for a global show of force against illegal wildlife crime.

Illegal animal trade worth £17.5billion a year

The trade is estimated to be worth up to $20bn (£17.54bn) a year, money used to fund serious and organized crime and terrorism.

In recent weeks, Moazu Kromah has been sentenced to more than five years in prison for conspiring to traffic more than $7m (£6.14m) worth of rhino horn and ivory elephant, involving the illegal poaching of approximately 135 animals.

The collaboration of a wide range of organizations on several continents, including members of the UfW, was essential to the success of this case.

Lord William Hague, chairman of the Royal Foundation, the charitable foundation set up by the Prince and Princess of Wales, said: “The depletion of our most precious wildlife continues.

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“This makes the illegal wildlife trade an intolerable offence. But its association with violent crime, corruption, human trafficking and even terrorist financing makes it an offense of the utmost seriousness.

“So our response must be organized in the same way, global in scope and just as serious as the crime we are fighting.

“It is the breadth and diversity of collaboration that makes the United for Wildlife Network unique in its work to defeat illegal wildlife crime.”

This week it was confirmed that King Charles will not attend COP27 in November, the UN climate conference, after it was decided that it was not appropriate for him to attend, despite his continued commitment to the environment.

His son’s first speech can be interpreted as a display of his desire to continue speaking out on the climate crisis, despite the expectations and responsibilities that come with being on the front lines of the throne.

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