The Duke of Cambridge has filmed a new documentary highlighting his mission as he follows in his father's footsteps in tackling conservation challenges

By Simon Perry
September 28, 2020 07:00 PM
Prince William
Prince William with Prince George, left, and Prince Louis
| Credit: Kensington Palace

Prince William has spoken about how a very special person is inspiring his conservation mission.

In the new documentary Prince William: A Planet for Us All, the Duke of Cambridge says he wants to be able to tell his 7-year-old son Prince George what he did to help the planet. William notes his grandfather Prince Philip, 99, and his dad Prince Charles, 71, were both ahead of their time in tackling conservation issues — and he wants to follow in their footsteps.

"I really want to make sure that in 20 years, George doesn't turn around and say, are you ahead of your time? Because if he does, we’re too late," William, 38, says in the show.

The father of three speaks about how his mission has become even more personal since he became a parent and how he wants to leave behind a better world for future generations.

William explains his deep connection with the outdoors and explains that it’s a connection he now shares with his own children: Prince George, Princess Charlotte, 5, and Prince Louis, 2. He says he owes it to young people to help their "voices be heard. That generational gap has to be bridged somehow so that the older political leaders understand that the younger generation mean business. I feel it is my duty and our collective responsibility to leave our planet in a stronger position for our children."

Over the last two years, Prince William has been filmed during his global mission to fight for the natural world. The film will air in the U.K. Monday, October 5, on ITV at 9 p.m.

Prince William
Prince William with Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis
| Credit: The Duchess of Cambridge

William — who recently introduced his children to TV icon and conservation hero Sir David Attenborough — tells the program that this year's coronavirus crisis has spurred people to look at what is important.

"I’ve been very lucky that through the lockdown I’ve been here surrounded by wildlife," he says. "And I can’t talk about coronavirus without mentioning how many people sadly lost their lives and how terrible and sad that all is. But I think the tiny little ray of light, if there is any ray of light from this, is that is allows us to take stock and to refocus our priorities. "

"I’ve been really heartened by what I’ve been hearing from other people and how they’ve decided to appreciate nature and experience it and see all the things that they never thought they would," William adds. "We’ve seen from coronavirus, organizations mobilizing themselves like never before. We need to build back greener. Young people won’t stand for saying it’s not possible."

The interview took place in London, but the show follows him around the world and the U.K., as much of his public work has been in the conservation sphere.

Prince William wildlife
Prince William and Kate Middleton
| Credit: Oxford Film/ ITV
Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
Kate Middleton and Prince William
| Credit: NEIL HALL/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

In the Hindu Kush mountain range in Pakistan last year with wife Kate Middleton, William viewed the destruction of the glaciers due to warming.

"Everyone's asking all of us to protect the environment, and what comes first is actually just to care about it in the first place,” Kate, 38, says in the documentary. "And you're not necessarily going to care about it if you don’t know about it, and that's why we thought it was so important to come here."

Prince William adds, "It's a huge environmental and humanitarian disaster. And yet, we still don't seem to be picking up the pace and understanding it quick enough. And I think the young are really getting it. And the younger generation are really wanting more and more people to do stuff and want more action. And we’ve got to speed the pace up. We’ve got to get on top of it and we need to be more vocal and more educational about what’s going on.”

Prince William wildlife
Prince William
| Credit: Oxford Film/ ITC

Prince William's passion for conservation started in his youth, and his adoption of the anti-poaching charity Tusk was one of his first actions in his public life. Through his United for Wildlife coalition, he has set in motion a worldwide campaign to clamp down on the illegal trade in wildlife parts. The documentary follows him as he goes back there and visits rhinos in Tanzania. As he feeds a carrot to a rhino called Deborah, and he talks about poaching and his fear of rhinos and elephants disappearing forever.

“People might see them and think it’s a big tank, a big hulk of an animal, with a big horn, but they are incredibly vulnerable. This is where the horn belongs, on a live rhino and that’s where it should stay."

And the Duke of Cambridge is visibly moved as he visits a heavily-guarded secure ivory store in Tanzania where 43,000 tusks with a street value of nearly $65 million have been impounded.

Prince William wildlife
Prince William
| Credit: Oxford Film/ ITC
Prince William wildlife
Prince William
| Credit: Oxford Film/ ITC

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The documentary follows William as he surprised Liverpool children who built a huge bug hotel, which they have named "Bugingham Palace," and discusses the importance of the insects on the environment. For their part, the children ask him some questions about whether his children can be cheeky and whether he is able to do the floss dance.

In Ullapool in the Scottish Highlands, two schoolgirls meet William via a video call to tell him how they've been protecting their local ocean wildlife which is being damaged by trawlers dredging the seabed for scallops.

And he goes kayaking at a central London nature reserve, which has been created at an 11 acre reservoir in Hackney. The area, which was once barred to the public, is now a tranquil space which is home to a wealth of wildlife including kingfishers, dragonflies and rare moths.