The royal family is always in the news, from tabloids fixated on Queen Elizabeth’s hats to Pippa Middleton’s romances to even Prince William’s receding hairline. Recently, however, a less light-hearted story circulated the media after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan Markle, took two private jet trips within roughly one week. Lavishing in luxuries such as enjoying private flights to fancy vacations is not uncommon for celebrities or international royalty. But, considering that the Duke and Duchess are both outspoken climate change activists, their trips to Ibiza and Nice are particularly striking. Because the couple advocates for drastic action to combat global warming, their excessive use of private jets, which, according to ITV, produce seven times more carbon emissions per person than commercial flights, reveals a shocking discrepancy between ideas and actions.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are not the only celebrities who act hypocritically. This year’s topic at “Google Camp,” an A-list exclusive political summit that Google LLC hosted earlier this month in Sicily, was climate change. Despite this, Prince Harry and other celebrities including Katy Perry, Priyanka Chopra and Leonardo DiCaprio took oil-guzzling super-yachts, private jets and helicopters to the event and were chauffeured around in Maserati SUVs. The gigantic carbon footprint of the event combined with the exorbitant 20 million dollar price tag brings the efficacy of the summit into question and raises a greater problem of celebrity hypocrisy and superiority. Instead of paying for unnecessary amenities like a concert by Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Google and others summit attendees could have donated to a research organization or another group working to mobilize the mission these public figures claim to support. This is just another example of celebrities speaking out against international dilemmas while simultaneously negating their words with their actions. Their behavior makes it seem as though they think they are exceptions to social rules due to their status.
However, it is important to remember that these celebrities are people too; it is impossible to practice exactly what one preaches. For example, most decent people believe that clothing companies should not pay their overworked overseas employees fractions of pennies, yet most do not actively research employment practices at stores before shopping at them. Similarly, many consumers continue to lunch at Chick-Fil-A, knowing the company’s charitable foundation donates to anti-LGBT groups. The unfortunate truth is that it is essentially impossible to live without contributing to the world’s issues—whether they be climate change, discrimination or some form of intolerance—because the majority of vital products are produced in unjust ways.
With this in mind, celebrities should not shy away from using their platforms as a way to promote awareness and set a good example for the global issues they can influence. Because celebrities have large followings and receive lots of media attention, the impact of their words and actions is much greater than that of the the average citizen. Using their status to speak out about important issues they believe in is a step in the right direction, but not abiding by the words they expect others to internalize dilutes the impact of their activism. Public figures are not immune to criticism and should, to the best of their ability, take actions that align with the philosophy they preach. It is necessary for the public to hold those with influence accountable, especially when self-proclaimed global warming activists take four private jet flights over 11 days when vacationing and throw themselves fancy concerts to pat themselves on the back for being “woke” or ethical when, in reality, they are doing more harm than good. After all, actions do speak louder than words.