Prince William said it would be an "absolute disaster" if his son is advocating for environmental changes in 30 years because it "will be too late"

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Prince William and Prince George
Prince George and Prince William
| Credit: Frank Augstein/Pool/Getty Images

Prince George's eyes have been opened to how people are hurting planet — especially in small ways that add up.

Prince William sat down for an interview with the BBC ahead of the first Earthshot Prize Awards ceremony this weekend. The father of three revealed that his 8-year-old son was frustrated when he took part in trash cleanup with his school.

"George at school recently has been doing litter picking, and I didn't realize but talking to him the other day he was already showing that he was getting a bit confused," said the Duke of Cambridge, 39. "[He was] a bit sort of annoyed by the fact they went out litter picking one day and then the very next day, they did the same route, same time and pretty much all the same litter they picked up was back again."

He continued, "And I think that for him, he was trying to understand how and where it all came from. He couldn't understand, he's like, 'Well, we cleaned this. Why has it not gone away?'"

Prince William's advocacy for changes to environmental impact is a passion inherited from his father, Prince Charles — but he doesn't want his own children to have to continue the work.

"It shouldn't be that there's a third generation now coming along having to ramp it up even more," he told host Adam Fleming. "And you know, for me, it would be an absolute disaster if George is sat here talking to you or your successor, Adam, you know in like 30 years' time, whatever, still saying the same thing — because by then we will be too late."

William also noted that becoming a parent to George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis with wife Kate Middleton has made him even more acutely aware of this problem than he was before.

"I want the things that I've enjoyed — the outdoor life, nature, the environment — I want that to be there for my children, and not just my children but everyone else's children," he said. "If we're not careful we're robbing from our children's future through what we do now. And I think that's not fair."

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Prince William conceived of the Earthshot Prize as a way to tackle some of the world's most pressing issues, always with his children in mind

According to Jason Knauf, chief executive of the Royal Foundation, "The challenge the Duke set himself was, 'What is the maximum positive personal contribution I can make in the next 10 years in the fight against climate change? What am I going to do in the next decade that means I can look my children in the eye and say that I did my bit? Every aspect of the Prize bears the stamp of his contribution."