Prince William ripped for African population growth remarks

Prince William’s statements Tuesday about how Africa’s population growth is impacting the continent’s wildlife is not going down well, particularly among those who view the royal family as an anachronistic relic of Britain’s racist, colonizing past.

During the the Tusk Conservation Awards, the Duke of Cambridge said: “The increasing pressure on Africa’s wildlife and wild spaces as a result of human population presents a huge challenge for conservationists, as it does the world over.”

As the Times U.K. reported, Africa’s population is on course to double by 2050, to 2.5 billion, and the expansion of agriculture and other development is seen as a major threat to many endangered species.

LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 22: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge poses with Tusk Conservation Awards winners and finalists at the Tusk Conservation Awards on November 22, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Toby Melville – WPA Pool/Getty Images) 

But William’s remarks struck many as simplistic, with regard to the complex causes of wildlife extinction. To critics, Britain’s future king also sounded as though he was attacking Africans for having too many children.

In this way, his comments echoed similar remarks he made at a Tusk charity event in November 2017. He talked about Africa’s “staggering” population growth putting “enormous pressure” on wildlife, sparking questions about royal hypocrisy and his personal family-planning choices.

At the time, William and his wife Kate Middleton were expecting their third child, Prince Louis.

Phil Dampier, author of books on the royal family, tweeted at the time: “If Prince William thinks there are too many people in the world shouldn’t he and Kate have stuck to two children themselves?”

Following William’s comments Tuesday night, critics on social media said he sounded like a rich, entitled European who continues to see Africa as a place to colonize or to use for his playground for tourism.

“Prince William wants to dictate to Africans like his imperialist colonizer family did for 100s of years,” tweeted one person. “Africa has no population congestion problem and is no trophy hunting ground for Europeans.”

Others pointed out how William’s views failed to address the “wider context” of climate change, population density and the distribution of natural resources.

“The Prince rightly draws attention to human population growth as a key driver of wildlife loss,” Robin Maynard, director of the charity Population Matters, told “There is also a wider context, with high consumption in rich, developed countries like the UK also driving habitat destruction, climate change and pollution — all drivers of extinctions. Addressing our consumption here is essential, too.”

Many comments on Twitter aligned with the complexities Maynard addressed, but they were lacerating in their views about William and the royal family.

“I’ve yet to hear Prince William talk about how much his own family has contributed to the current climate disaster,” one person said. “How much CO2 they emit from their palaces and private jets and helicopters that they use as Ubers. For all the children they have and energy they consume.”

Someone else added: “Prince William has three kids who will have travelled by private jet many times by the time they’re 10. The problem is not overpopulation. The problem is overconsumption from people like him.”

Maynard agreed that couples in developed countries can choose smaller families to help reduce over-consumption of natural resources, but he said that’s not a choice available to “hundreds of millions of women” elsewhere around the world.

That’s particularly true in sub-Sahara Africa, he said, while noting that the U.K. government had cut funding for international aid for family planning.

“The number of women with an unmet need for safe, modern contraception across sub-Saharan Africa is rising,” Maynard said. “Empowering women with access to and choice of contraception is crucial to reducing poverty, enabling development and giving more space to nature.”


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