'Green initiative' by Charles will cost £80,000 and leave 53-ton carbon footprint as he flies in 12-seat private jet
Prince Charles is being accused of hypocrisy after it was revealed that he is chartering a luxury private jet for a five-day tour of Europe to promote environmental issues.
The Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall, plus ten Clarence House staff, will fly from London to Rome this evening. Then they will fly on to Venice and Berlin, before returning to Britain.
Clarence House aides stress that the trip is at the request of the Government to promote its climate change policies.
But instead of using scheduled flights, the Royal party has hired a private plane, thought to be an Airbus A319.
Not so green: Charles and Camilla leave a private jet in Uganda in 2007
According to experts from the Carbon Managers company, which carries out environmental audits, the aircraft's four European flights over 2,200 miles will leave a carbon footprint of 52.95 tons - nearly five times the average person's 11-ton footprint for an entire year.
Each member of Charles's party will leave a carbon footprint of 4.41 tons - 13 times more than if they had used a scheduled flight on the same type of plane, which can carry up to 156 passengers.
The flights on the specially converted jet, which boasts a master suite with its own lavatory and shower, will cost an estimated £80,000 - five times more than business-class fares on scheduled airlines.
Scheduled flights would cost £1,525 per person, a total of £15,250 for the Royal party. They could have included a British Airways flight from London to Rome (£200), Alitalia from Rome to Venice (£528 economy, no business class available), Lufthansa from Venice to Berlin (£597), and BA from Berlin to London (£200).
Last night Clarence House refused to confirm which type of plane Prince Charles was using or how much it would cost.
He used an Airbus A319 on a controversial 16,000-mile tour of South America in February as part of his crusade against global warming.
The latest row comes after Prince Andrew - dubbed Air Miles Andy and the Junket of York - was accused of suppressing a report over the cost of his taxpayer-funded trips as Britain's business ambassador.
Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesman Norman Baker said: 'Prince Charles seems not to realise that he enormously weakens his case for tackling climate change by his own profligate and careless habits.
'It is deeply unattractive to have somebody lecturing you on climate change when they are one of the greatest emitters of carbon themselves.
'When you couple Prince Charles's private jets with Prince Andrew's helicopters, you cannot help but think that the Royal Family is part of the carbon problem rather than part of the carbon solution.'
Royal aides insisted last night that Charles and Camilla had planned to use a jet from No 32 (The Royal) Squadron, until the aircraft developed a technical fault on Friday.
Loopy: The Prince's route
But sources at an Italian military airfield near Rome, where the Royal couple will land, said they had been told several days ago that a private charter would be used.
Charles and Camilla will be met in Rome tonight by Britain's Ambassador to Italy, Edward Chaplin, and his wife Nicola. A fleet of cars will take their party the 30-minute drive into the city centre.
The Royal couple will stay in the ornate Imperial Bedroom of the Quirinale Palace, where the Queen slept on her last visit to Italy in 2000.
Tomorrow, Charles will give a keynote speech on climate change to the Italian parliament.
From there, the Royal party will travel to the Vatican - again in a fleet of cars - where Charles will discuss the environment with Pope Benedict XVI.
This, Charles's first meeting with the Pontiff, will have added interest. Several years ago, the Prince expressed concern about the position of the Roman Catholic Church on population matters. The Vatican is opposed to contraception.
After his meeting with the Pope, Charles will take part in a 'green initiative' at Villa Wolkonsky, Ambassador Chaplin's residence, before boarding the private jet to fly to Venice.
There Charles will focus on urban regeneration and the environment before visiting the newly restored La Fenice Opera House where, with Camilla, he will watch a performance of Gaetano Donizetti's tragic work, Mary Stuart.
A Clarence House spokesman said: 'The Prince and Duchess undertake overseas visits to promote British interests at the request of the Government.'
Fury over Royal tax break
Alistair Darling has been criticised for giving Prince Charles a tax break in the Budget. The move means the taxpayer will now cover a significant proportion of the costs of official duties carried out by Prince William and Prince Harry.
At present, Charles employs a six-strong team of aides for his sons out of his £16million-a-year income. He will now be able to deduct their salaries from his annual tax return, saving him hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Labour MP Ian Davidson said: 'At a time of great economic difficulty, one of the richest men in the kingdom is being given a special deal. I am surprised that the Chancellor chose to do it.'
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