Prince Harry Reveals 7-Year-Old Boy Inspired His Green Travel Initiative: 'He Tugged on My Shirt'

"This boy, despite his age, had touched on a powerful truth," the Duke of Sussex said

The inspiration behind Prince Harry‘s new green travel initiative came from an unexpected interaction with a bold 7-year-old boy.

As the prince launched his new initiative, Travalyst, on Tuesday, he recalled meeting the young boy during a visit to a coral reef replanting project in the Caribbean when he was traveling on behalf of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, in 2012.

“I had a 7-year-old come up to me, tug my shirt, and say with such conviction: ‘Because of your country, my country’s coral reef is dying,’ ” Harry said during his speech.

“This boy, despite his age, had touched on a powerful truth. He already understood that the environmental damage caused to the reef was created by the actions of people outside of his country. And he was absolutely spot on.

“His words deeply affected me because they revealed the full impact outsiders can have on a community without even realizing it.”

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

The speech came as Harry addressed the recent controversy over his own use of private jets, admitting that “we can all do better, no one is perfect.”

Harry’s two-year quest to help to find answers came to fruition on Tuesday when he announced a partnership between him and a group of travel companies to help change habits among everyone from companies to consumers. Harry and wife Meghan Markle‘s new charity foundation, SussexRoyal (which will launch in 2020), will team up with what he called some “heavy hitters of the global travel industry —, Ctrip, Skyscanner, TripAdvisor and VISA.”

Prince Harry
Prince Harry. Press Association via AP Images

He added, “These are organizations that can really make waves, and the tide is changing. Surfs up!”

Prince Harry
Prince Harry. Press Association via AP Images

Harry said he has learned over the last decade from visiting places he loves like Botswana and the Caribbean, Nepal and New Zealand, that “our world faces environmental challenges of unprecedented scope and scale. From deforestation and the loss of biodiversity, to ocean plastics and poaching, the problems can sometimes seem too big to fix.”

A passionate traveler and appreciative of the benefits it can bring, Harry clearly is not going to stop flying – and he is unlikely to stop using private jets. But he hopes that “if conducted responsibly, tourism can benefit communities for generations. It can build schools, create jobs, strengthen safety nets – and it can create a virtuous cycle, as communities protect what promotes further tourism,” he said. “Sustainability and economic stability, we believe, are two sides of the same coin. After all, healthy ecosystems are the lifeline for all of us.”

Prince Harry
Press Association via AP Images

“By promoting and incentivizing sustainable decision-making, by helping us as consumers stay better informed, and by empowering communities, Travalyst will strive to change both the travel industry and the world for the better— and for the long term.”

He then joined a panel discussion with Gillian Tans, Chairwoman,, Jane Sun, CEO, Ctrip, Bryan Dove, CEO, Skyscanner, Stephen Kaufer, President & CEO, TripAdvisor and Al Kelly, Chairman and CEO, Visa.

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