Prince Harry breaks silence on private jet use with Meghan Markle: 'We can all do better'

After sparking a flood of backlash, Prince Harry broke his silence on his and Meghan Markle's reported use of private jets despite their negative impact on the environment.

"I spend 99 percent of my life traveling the world by commercial [flights]," the 34-year-old Duke of Sussex said during a speech in Amsterdam on Tuesday to promote Travalyst, a new travel sustainability initiative.

"Occasionally there needs to be an opportunity based on a unique circumstance to ensure that my family [is] safe."

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“We can all do better and while no one is perfect, we all have a responsibility for our own individual impact,” he also said, according to People. “The question is what we do to balance it out.”

Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan, 38, drew criticism this summer when they took a private jet to go on vacation to Ibiza, then to Nice, France, despite the flight's carbon impact on the planet.

They reportedly flew from Farnborough, U.K., to Ibiza, Spain, on Aug. 6, then back on Aug. 12.

On Aug. 14, they flew from Farnborough to Nice, France, to visit pal Elton John, then back to Farnborough on Aug. 17.

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The couple is believed to have taken a Gulfstream 200, which seats 19 people, to Ibiza from Farnborough, and a Cessna 500 XL, which seats nine, on their return trip.

Their trip to Nice was to spend time at Elton John's home.

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"We can all do better and while no one is perfect, we all have a responsibility for our own individual impact."

— Prince Harry

John later said in a statement that he provided the flight for the Sussexes to preserve their safety and privacy.

“I am deeply distressed by today’s distorted and malicious account in the press surrounding the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s private stay at my home in Nice last week,” he tweeted. “Prince Harry’s Mother, Diana Princess Of Wales was one of my dearest friends. I feel a profound sense of obligation to protect Harry and his family from the unnecessary press intrusion that contributed to Diana’s untimely death.”

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Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex attend "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London. The couple's penchant for private flights has come under fire for its contrast to their environmental consciousness.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex attend "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London. The couple's penchant for private flights has come under fire for its contrast to their environmental consciousness. (Getty)

"After a hectic year continuing their hard work and dedication to charity, David and I wanted the young family to have a private holiday inside the safety and tranquility of our home," he continued. "To maintain a high level of much-needed protection, we provided them with a private jet flight. To support Prince Harry’s commitment to the environment, we ensured their flight was carbon neutral, by making the appropriate contribution to Carbon Footprint™. I highly respect and applaud both Harry and Meghan’s commitment to charity and I’m calling on the press to cease these relentless and untrue assassinations on their character that are spuriously crafted on an almost daily basis."

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"I feel a profound sense of obligation to protect Harry and his family from the unnecessary press intrusion that contributed to Diana’s untimely death."

— Elton John

The trip to France reportedly had a carbon footprint of three tons, while the annual carbon footprint for the average British citizen is 13 tons.

The Ibiza trip reportedly emitted six times more carbon dioxide than a commercial flight from London to the Spanish island.

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Prince Harry gave a speech barefoot earlier this month at Google's secret celebrity summit, saying he and Duchess Meghan would have, at maximum, two children (including infant son Archie) to prevent environmental harm from climate change.

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Prince Harry's new initiative is focused on tackling the travel industry's impact on climate change, improving wildlife conservation, and protecting the environment in top tourist spots around the world. It aims to increase the amount of tourism dollars that go to local communities, as well as to find answers to over-tourism.

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"Travel has the unparalleled power to open people's minds to different cultures, new experiences, and to have a profound appreciation for what our world has to offer," the Duke said in a statement. "As tourism inevitably grows, it is critically important to accelerate the adoption of sustainable practices worldwide, and to balance this growth with the needs of the environment and the local population. Bringing companies, consumers and communities together is our best chance to protect destinations and ecosystems for future generations."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.