Elton John slams media for criticizing Prince Harry, Meghan over flying in private jets

The singer said he felt an obligation to protect the royal couple from "the unnecessary press intrusion that contributed to Diana’s untimely death."

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By Yuliya Talmazan

LONDON — Singer Elton John slammed what he termed "distorted and malicious" news coverage of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan's use of private jets despite espousing environmental causes.

The "Rocketman" singer called Harry's mother, Princess Diana, one of his "dearest friends" as he took to Instagram on Monday to say that he was "deeply distressed" by stories that criticized the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

"I feel a profound sense of obligation to protect Harry and his family from the unnecessary press intrusion that contributed to Diana’s untimely death," said John, 72.

Princess Diana died more than 20 years ago in a high-speed Paris car crash while she and her boyfriend were being chauffeured by an intoxicated driver and pursued by photographers.

John said he and his partner David Furnish had "wanted the young family to have a private holiday" inside the safety and tranquility of the singer's home. The royal couple was provided with a plane “to maintain a high level of much-needed protection," he said.

The Sun tabloid on Saturday slammed "eco-warriors" Harry and Meghan, a former actress, for allegedly taking a private jet to France after a "gas-guzzling" trip to Spain.

"The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s holiday is their second European jaunt on a private plane this month," according to the paper. "They flew into the new hypocrisy row just two days after returning from Ibiza."

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Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the royal couple’s recent trips, or say how many flights they had taken in recent days.

John said he had made a contribution to a fund that offsets carbon emissions to ensure the flight the royal couple traveled on was carbon neutral.

Britain's Mail tabloid on Monday quoted royal experts saying the British public does not want to be "lectured on climate change by those who don't follow their own advice."

Prominent British TV host and personality Piers Morgan tweeted Tuesday: "Memo to ‘eco-warriors’ Meghan & Harry: this is what Economy to Nice looks like," he wrote above a photo of himself sitting in what looked like an economy class seat on a plane.

Harry and Meghan have been vocal on environmental issues and climate change in particular — following in the footsteps of Harry’s father, Prince Charles.

Prince Harry and Jane Goodall Kirsty Wigglesworth / Getty Images file

In last month’s interview with primatologist Jane Goodall in Vogue Magazine, Prince Harry said he planned to have two children “maximum” — citing environmental concerns for this decision.

And in a recent Instagram post, Harry spoke about environmental damage inflicted on the planet, saying: "With nearly 7.7 billion people inhabiting this Earth, every choice, every footprint, every action makes a difference."

Criticism of the royal couple has prompted a response in the U.S., with American comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres speaking in their defense.

“Portia and I met Prince Harry and Meghan in England to talk about their work on wildlife conservation,” she tweeted on Monday. “They were the most down-to-earth, compassionate people. Imagine being attacked for everything you do, when all you’re trying to do is make the world better.”

Pop star Pink tweeted that she was happy to see people coming to the defense of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

"The way people treat her is the most public form of bullying I have seen in a while," she wrote referring to Meghan. "It’s out of control."

Harry and Meghan's wedding in May 2018 was marked by an outpouring of affection in Britain, but less than a year later they have found themselves on the receiving end of a barrage of negative stories in the media.

They have ranged from the young couple’s home being renovated with 2.4 million pounds ($3.06 million) of taxpayers' money to reports of Meghan being dubbed "Duchess Difficult" by palace insiders for her “string of demands.”

The rest of the royal family has also been previously criticized for taking frequent luxury flights.

"Harry, you are no ordinary parent. In ecological terms you and your family are a herd of elephants trashing the forest," The Guardian newspaper's former environment editor John Vidal wrote in an opinion piece in response to Prince Harry’s claim that the couple would not have more than two children.

Carolin Sri-Narayana and Reuters contributed.