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Prince William: I am honouring my 'much-missed' grandmother by helping to save natural world

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 04/10/2022 Hannah Furness
Prince William, Prince of Wales attends the United For Wildlife Summit at Science Museum on October 04, 2022 in London - Samir Hussein © Samir Hussein Prince William, Prince of Wales attends the United For Wildlife Summit at Science Museum on October 04, 2022 in London - Samir Hussein

Prince William has said he is taking comfort in honouring his "much-missed" grandmother through his work, as he lays out a blueprint of his work as Prince of Wales in a speech about saving the natural world.

The Prince said he had learned nature was "one of our greatest assets" from his family at a young age, as he paid tribute to the late Queen "who cared so much" for it.

"In times of loss, it is a comfort to honour those we miss through the work we do," he said.

"I take great comfort then from the progress we are making to end the illegal wildlife trade."

The speech, his first as Prince of Wales, gives a clear indication of the work he plans to do in his new role.

Addressing the 300 sector leaders at the United for Wildlife Global Summit at the Science Museum in London, he warned that the world no longer has the “luxury of time” to tackle the illegal wildlife trade and that there are “still too many criminals who believe they can act with impunity”.

"Our natural world is one of our greatest assets," he said.

"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."

'There's a war going on'

As well as referencing his late grandparents, the Prince also paid tribute to Ranger Anton Mzimba who was killed this year on the "front line" of what he called a "war".

"There's a frontline," the Prince told his ranger's at the summit. "There's a war going on. Everybody doesn't really see it.

"Around 1,000 in the last ten years have lost their lives protecting wildlife and community. It is terrifying, it really is."

In a keynote speech, the Prince said: "Eight years ago, we set out to develop a solution to one of the largest, yet often overlooked, international crimes blighting our world.

"A crime that robs us all of our most precious natural resources and funds organised crime, the harms of which are often directly felt by the most vulnerable communities.

"And a crime that this year felt especially brutal.

"The devastating news about Ranger Anton Mzimba is shocking confirmation of how vicious the illegal wildlife trade is.

"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 also only right that we honour him by continuing our work with renewed focus and vigour."

'Difficult mission'

Calling it a "difficult mission", he added: "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.

"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."

Describing the campaign's successes so far, the Prince detailed its contribution to more than 450 law enforcement cases, more than 250 arrests, and nearly 200 seizures of wildlife products.

The Prince, who is the founder of the Earthshot Prize, has made the environment one of the key topics he hopes to campaign on, building on his work so far with a new platform as Prince of Wales.

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"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," he said.

"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.

"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."

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