keeping up with the royals

Sorry, Was That a Good Opinion From Prince William?

Hmmm. Much to think about. Photo: WPA Pool/Getty Images

I hesitate to say this, given his recent handling of familial-racism allegations and his characterizations of his brother as a famemonger, but I think Prince William just expressed a good opinion? One I can get behind and actually happen to share? Hmmm. Much to think about.

The opinion in question: that all these billionaires currently racing one another to the edge of space would do better by everyone if they routed some of that money into saving Earth instead. “We need some of the world’s greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet, not trying to find the next place to go and live,” William, whose musings on the environment were recently published as part of a book, told the BBC. “That really is quite crucial, to be focusing on this [planet] rather than giving up and heading out into space to try and think of solutions for the future.”

While I am loath to class Jeff Bezos among the “world’s greatest minds” — please recall his proposal, immediately upon returning from his inaugural Blue Origin flight, that we move “all polluting industry” into space — I agree that all the money he’s dumping into galactic tourism would be better used to curb the climate crisis. Save for the view, these flights sound like ten minutes of discomfort, and for what? The ability to brag to your rich friends about the time you almost got this close to space? To be fair, I guess, it’s maybe worth mentioning that Bezos did donate $10 billion toward environmental preservation. That feels like the absolute least he could do, considering the depth of his fortune (his net worth is estimated around $191 billion), the breadth of Amazon’s carbon footprint, and the fact that his astral joyrides seem to produce staggering emissions, but I digress. William told the BBC he has “absolutely no interest” in visiting space, unlike many of his megawealthy peers — a refreshing change of pace — and highlighted the “rise in climate anxiety” among young people whose “futures are basically threatened.” And meanwhile, the billionaire boys are just blasting off every chance they get. Rude.

One compelling piece of evidence toward Prince William’s opinion being good is that the seasoned troll William Shatner thinks it’s bad. “He’s a lovely, gentle, educated man, but he’s got the wrong idea,” Shatner said of England’s future king in an interview with Entertainment Tonight. “The idea here is not to go, ‘Yeah, look at me. I’m in space,” he said, but to “show people it’s very practical. You can send somebody like me up into space,” and maybe also off-load all our damaging industry up there. Bezos recently launched the 90-year-old Star Trek veteran to the Earth’s atmospheric brink, so he does have some firsthand experience in this department. Maybe he is even a little biased, to the degree that he is possibly the one missing the point. I am pretty sure Prince William is saying we should deal with Earth’s fatal problems here and now rather than rolling the dice on a space future; the window to avoid unequivocal climate catastrophe has very nearly closed, after all.

Anyway, say what you will about Prince William (he may not know how to type, for example), but I have to agree with him about private spaceflights. Please respect my privacy during this confusing time.

This article has been updated.

Sorry, Was That a Good Opinion From Prince William?