Prince William is explaining why Kate Middleton didn’t travel with him on his visit to Singapore.
In a speech on Monday morning, William, 41, said Kate couldn’t be with him because of an important family reason: Prince George’s schooling.
“Catherine is very sorry she can’t be here,” said William. “She is helping George through his first set of major exams.”
The royal added that his last visit, with Kate, 41 had been “a memorable” one 11 years ago. On that occasion, the Prince and Princess of Wales visited Singapore on behalf of his late grandmother Queen Elizabeth during her Diamond Jubilee year.
This time, however, William is in Singapore for both the third-annual Earthshot Prize that seeks new solutions to the planet’s problems, and for his United For Wildlife program, which works to “protect our natural world from the international criminal gangs intent on plundering it,” he said Monday.
Speaking at the United for Wildlife summit on Monday, William also passionately railed against the “greed and exploitation” that has led to the plundering of endangered species — something which he said had caused wildlife populations to tumble by “almost 70% in the last 50 years.”
“Namibia, home to the largest number of black rhinos in the world, saw a devastating 93% increase in rhino poaching from 2021 to 2022,” he continued.
“We know where the animals are being poached; we know the routes through which they are illegally transported; we know the financial systems that criminal networks are exploiting to finance their trade; and we know the main markets that are fuelling the demand for it,” he added about how the problem can be targetted.
“Let’s use this summit to renew our collective determination to defeat the criminal gangs who inflict such unnecessary environmental and human loss.”
William’s United for Wildlife campaign brings together governments, businesses, policing authorities and transport agencies to help combat the crime. Such high-profile agencies are required because it is often the same highly organized gangs that traffic drugs, arms and people.
“This criminal convergence makes the illegal wildlife trade as much a human crisis as an environmental one,” said William, before adding that the “global black market that has made flora and fauna the fourth-most-traded illegal commodity in the world, worth up to $20 billion.”
“This is a global issue that demands immediate attention from us all.”
Despite the enormous task, William’s network has had many successes since its inception nearly a decade ago. He stated that the network has supported over 600 investigations, “nearly 300 seizures of illegal wildlife products, and the training of over 110,000 people to tackle wildlife crime.”
“But our work is far from over,” William added. “We must be more determined, more innovative, and more resourceful in the relentless pursuit of our mission to defeat this trade.
“I am delighted to announce today that United for Wildlife has led the creation of a world-first International Statement of Principles, agreed by governments to prevent, detect, and deter the financial activity that sustains the illegal wildlife trade,” he continued.
“Signatories, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, the US, South Africa and Singapore, will commit to regular cooperation to combat money laundering from transnational criminal syndicates engaged in the illegal wildlife trade.”
William also referred to why it was important to be in Singapore — a key transport and business hub in Southeast Asia. He said that last year, 34 kg of rhino horn worth around $1.2 million was seized at Changi airport by Singaporean authorities. To combat this crime, he said that United for Wildlife had entered into a new partnership with the local Mandai Nature so they are better equipped to tackle the whole trade ecosystem in the region.
“There is no greater example of the benefits of international collaboration than here in Singapore,” said William. “We can take great encouragement from the many ways that this country is rising to the challenge.”
Earlier on Monday, William had some fun on the water as he took part in a traditional Dragon Boat race in the shadow of some of Singapore’s most iconic buildings.