Prince Harry’s big climate change project entered an “incredibly exciting” new era with a new board of directors but without crediting the Duke of Sussex in the announcement.
Harry launched Travalyst in 2019 when he was still a working royal. The nonprofit brings together major players in the travel industry, including Tripadvisor, Booking.com, Skyscanner and Visa, as well as the more recently added Google.
The founding principle is that “aviation, and tourism as a whole, could become unviable industries” if the sector cannot meet emissions targets aimed at tackling global warming, according to Travalyst’s website.
For three years, Harry was the public face of the project, even during a period in which he was repeatedly accused of climate hypocrisy over his use of private jets.
However, he appears to have been omitted from a major announcement by the organization in May. No doubt as a result, there has been no news coverage of Travalyst’s brave new era.
In fact, the other two press releases posted on the nonprofit’s website in 2023 both demoted Harry to a single reference in the “About Travalyst” blurb at the bottom.
Harry undoubtedly remains committed to the project, and Newsweek understands he is in regular contact with the chief executive and board. Yet little effort appears to have been made in 2023 to use him as a promotional tool.
This is in contrast to much of the publicity from 2022 and earlier, before the Harry & Meghan Netflix documentary, in December of that year, and Harry’s memoir, Spare, which came out this past January.
Travalyst and representatives for the Sussexes declined to comment when contacted by Newsweek.
Travalyst Announces End of Its ‘Pilot Phase’
In a press release that appears to have passed the world by, Travalyst Chief Executive Sally Davey said in May: “Today we formally mark the end of Travalyst’s pilot phase with the appointment of a new Board to govern and guide us on our journey ahead to delivering major positive and system-changing impact.
“This is an incredibly exciting moment for Travalyst and, I believe, for the industry as we stride ahead into our next phase of growth and expansion to ensure our work is freely available to all, used by all and catalyses the positive transformation of the sector,” she said.
By contrast, out of seven Travalyst press releases published on its website in 2022, all mentioned him, and six mentioned him at the very top of the announcement.
Only one demoted him to the “About Travalyst” section at the bottom, and even that was released on the same day as another that credited him prominently.
Of five further press releases since its 2019 launch, just one, from September 2021, does not mention Harry at all, and he is either mentioned at the top or quoted prominently in the others.
In other words, there has not been a year since its creation in 2019 when Harry has been less prominent in Travalyst’s publicity.
While the reason for this is not clear, PR expert Eric Schiffer, head of Reputation Management Consultants, said Harry’s broadside against his family in December and January could prove difficult from a PR perspective.
He told Newsweek: “He has been a lightning rod for negative news that some brands would rather put their finger in an electric socket than touch.”
However, he said Harry was making a smart move to stay in the background because he can “turn down his public association until his brand begins to rebuild, which he’s working on now after this overly done campaign of recrimination against his father and family, which has hurt him because people had enough.
“He’s a survivor,” Schiffer added, “and he understands that he erred and he wants to work smart, especially for things that he cares about, and this is a mature move.”
There are now two specific projects for Travalyst to boast about. The company has been working to enable consumers to track their carbon footprints as they book their vacations across both air travel and hotel reservations, allowing them to choose more environmentally friendly options if they wish.
It is not definitively clear why the landmark moment was not more successfully publicized, nor why its founder was not used to do what he does best—garner the attention of the world’s media.
Even Harry and Meghan Markle’s Archewell website did not note Travalyst has moved out of its pilot phase with a brand-new team, as well as partnerships with companies collectively valued at nearly $2 trillion.
One point frequently made by the couple’s supporters on social media is that however negative the British media might be about them, they do reliably cover the couple’s every word and move. So it does not seem like a stretch to suggest that a simple quote from Harry circulated to the media could have spread the word far and wide.
Harry’s Reputation at the Time of Travalyst Announcement
The announcement did come a week after a high-profile altercation between Harry, Meghan and paparazzi in New York City. The Sussexes were followed by photographers after leaving the Ms. Foundation’s Women of Vision awards gala at the Ziegfeld Ballroom on May 16.
A spokesperson for the couple said: “Last night the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and [Meghan’s mother] were involved in a near catastrophic car chase at the hands of a ring of highly aggressive paparazzi.
“This relentless pursuit, lasting over two hours, resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers. While being a public figure comes with a level of interest from the public, it should never come at the cost of anyone’s safety,” the spokesperson said.
However, New York City Mayor Eric Adams cast doubt on the claim that a two-hour high-speed chase occurred on Manhattan’s famously congested streets. The New York Police Department also appeared to tone down the couple’s account.
“There were numerous photographers that made their transport challenging,” the department said in a statement. “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived at their destination and there were no reported collisions, summonses, injuries, or arrests in regard.”
There was also some backlash from U.S. commentators and celebrities, who suggested Harry and Meghan exaggerated the experience.
The incident came after a major PR blow to the couple in the aftermath of the publication of Spare, which sent Harry and Meghan’s net approval ratings plunging into negative territory.
It is not known whether the media controversy the week before played any role in how Travalyst worded its press release.
The New-Look Travalyst
Travalyst’s new look board includes Chair India Gary-Martin, who remains the risk and data chair for C. Hoare & Co., Britain’s oldest private bank.
Why Harry was not used to publicize Travalyst’s landmark moment is all the more perplexing given that Gary-Martin mentioned the prince when she posted on Instagram about her new role.
“Really exciting to announce that I’ve accepted the role as the Chair of the board of Travalyst,” she wrote in May.
“Founded by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, we are conveners and drivers of sustainability in travel and tourism working with the world’s biggest corporations to drive standards and make sure we aren’t taking out more than we put in—particularly in the places that are most impacted,” she said.
Her LinkedIn gives her location as “Washington, District of Colombia” and notes she has “held expatriate assignments in London, Frankfurt, Tokyo and Hong Kong.”
Other new directors are Clea Kaske-Kuck, a director at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development; Sally Uren, chief executive of Forum for the Future; James Whiting, chief executive of Doughty Street Chambers; and Henrietta Worthington, a lawyer with Vedder Price.
The full list of Travalyst partners has Amadeus, Booking.com, Expedia Group, Google, Skyscanner, Travelport, Trip.com Group, Tripadvisor and Visa.
Jack Royston is chief royal correspondent for Newsweek, based in London. You can find him on Twitter at @jack_royston and read his stories on Newsweek‘s The Royals Facebook page.
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