Leadership comes in many forms, and for too long it has been associated with power through politics, and money, and sometimes status too; many of those with these attributes of leadership have used the power vested in them for personal profit, in a sad betrayal of trust, and it is remarkable to find a prominent public figure who is determined to fight not just for what is right, but for the neglected cause of wildlife.
Jane Treays, in her excellent television documentary on Prince William, last night, focused on his passionate concern to help conservation efforts in Africa, including through the charity Tusk: it was a personal and very moving glimpse into his heart and soul, in his own words, and a revelation about the brave men and women in a land of light and shadow who have dedicated their lives to helping endangered species such as the black rhino, the lemur, the vulture, the elephants, the coral reef, and to changing the attitudes of the people of Africa, with success but with so much more to be done. I hope that millions of people will have watched the programme, and will be inspired to think, at least, about the precious world of nature which is diminishing every second because of the demands of humanity, and may even wish to help.
For too long the voices of people calling for a halt to our exploitation of nature have been disregarded or ridiculed: the Prince of Wales has petitioned governments and opinion-formers to consider the needs of the environment for as long as I can remember but only now are his views becoming seen, more widely, as wisdom and not eccentricity. It has not been easy for him to speak out to a sceptical world, and history will reflect his foresight and courage. It seems as if Prince William and also perhaps Prince Harry will take the seeds sown by their father and bring them to fruition, and the time is right for this to happen.
True leadership is about action and example through values based on integrity, fairness and kindness – not affecting humans only but involving and benefiting every occupant of our Planet, many of which have been here far longer than we have. As guardians of Earth, we have a responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of all the life that makes up the delicate eco-system on which our own lives and that of the Planet depend – and we are failing. Prince William, and his father, understand this, and as someone who cares deeply for the wellbeing of nature, everywhere, I am heartened that these future kings are determined to do what they can for what is the most important issue confronting us today; the glamour that is associated with the younger Duke makes him a particularly powerful advocate for the cause of conservation. Perhaps now the world will listen.
We each of us can, and must, play our part too. What are you doing to help the environment? What have you done? It is not too late – yet.
(Jane Treays’ documentary on Prince William was shown last night . 15th September 2013, on ITV1, if you wish to see it on catch-up.)