Asia-Pacific

Prince Charles sidesteps Andrew- Jeffrey Epstein allegations to talk climate change

Charles, The Prince of Wales, has finished up his tour of New Zealand. Source: PA Wire

Prince Charles did not answer questions about the crisis engulfing brother Andrew while in New Zealand, instead focusing on the issue of climate change.

Prince Charles has ended his tour of New Zealand by addressing the perilous crisis that has swamped media in recent times - but not that of his brother Prince Andrew's alleged sexual offences and incriminating association with deceased American financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Instead, it was climate change on the Prince of Wales' mind, and what he sees as inaction from the world's leaders that threatens the global economy and ecological systems.

Prince Andrew is stepping down from public duties.
Prince Andrew is stepping down from public duties.
AAP

In an address to Lincoln University, Charles echoed the thoughts of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has put a frighteningly short time-frame to reverse greenhouse gas emissions without irrevocable change.

"We have, I'm afraid, reached a defining moment in human history, a tipping point at which we still have the ability to change course, but really only in the next ten years," he said.

"It's a very small window, after which there may be no going back."

In a remarkably political address, Charles praised the actions of New Zealand's government, which he said "offers vital leadership" by the recent passage of the Zero Carbon Bill through parliament.

Prince Charles
Prince Charles
By Dan Marsh (Flickr: Prince Charles) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

His advocacy also clashes with the recent statement of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who claimed no link between his country's greenhouse gas emissions and recent devastating bushfires.

"This is science, not conjecture or scare-mongering or some kind of plot to undermine the economic system as we know it," Charles said of climate denialism.

"We are feeling the effects of all of this now, and disasters are increasing with terrifying frequency and intensity, and causing unprecedented levels of physical and economic damage.

"New Zealand is already seeing higher temperatures, more serious flooding, droughts, increased sea-level rise, and warmer and more acidic oceans."

The speech followed another political speech at the Bay of Islands on Wednesday, when Charles addressed a predominantly Maori crowd at the birthplace of modern New Zealand.

At the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, Charles admitted: "wrongs of the past" as the British colonised the Pacific nation.

Speaking on the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook's arrival to New Zealand on the Endeavour, the prince hailed treaty settlements between the state and Maori tribes.

"The treaty settlements do not and cannot right all the wrongs of the past and they can only go so far in easing the pain which has been felt by so many people," he said.

"But I am heartened that through settlements, dialogue and above all, through understanding, New Zealand and her people continue to demonstrate their commitment to the principles of this partnership."

Charles' eagerness to speak out on integration and environmentalism came as he ignored the turmoil gripping the Royal family back in the United Kingdom.

As evidence mounted to link Prince Andrew to the disgraced Epstein, Charles' younger brother agreed to step back from public life in a circuit-breaking move.

Charles wasn't drawn on the matter in his week in New Zealand.

Prince Andrew Says He ‘Let the Side Down’ When He Stayed With Jeffrey Epstein
Disgraced US financier Jeffrey Epstein.
New York Times

His team insisted the prince wouldn't conduct a single interview while on tour, severely restricting media access and limiting attempts to pose the difficult questions.

Still, that crisis didn't affect support for the visiting royals in New Zealand, a country largely sympathetic to the monarchy.

In three public walks, locals were upbeat and brimming with support for the couple - even if the crowds were humble in size.

Charles' last street stroll came in the tourist hamlet of Kaikoura on Saturday.

Fittingly, given Charles' passions, his last outing in New Zealand was to visit a breeding site for a local bird, the Hutton's shearwater.

After a one-day visit to the Solomon Islands, he will return home early next week.

With wires...

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch