Prince George has expressed his frustration at the relentless battle against discarded waste after litter-picking expeditions at school, the Duke of Cambridge has said.
William, in an interview with BBC Newscast on BBC Sounds, said his eight-year-old son was confused and annoyed when his class returned to the same route the next day to find it was full of litter again.
The duke criticised the space race and space tourism in the 30-minute sit-down chat, saying the world’s greatest minds need to focus on trying to fix the Earth instead.
His comments are being aired the day after Star Trek’s William Shatner made history by becoming the oldest person in space, blasting off in a rocket built by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s space travel company Blue Origin.
The duke said: “So George, at school recently, has been doing litter picking.
“I didn’t realise but talking to him the other day he was already showing that he was getting a bit confused and a bit, sort of, annoyed by the fact they went out litter picking one day and then the very next day they did the same route, same time, and pretty much all the same litter they picked up back again.
“And I think that, for him, he was trying to understand how and where it all came from.
“He couldn’t understand, he’s like, ‘Well, we cleaned this. Why has it not gone away?’”
William said George is “acutely aware” of how the resources he uses impact the planet, such as not overusing water and turning off light switches.
But the duke said he felt bad about giving his children the “burden of that worry”.
William said: “He is acutely aware, more so than the other two at the moment.
“Charlotte is still a little bit young. She’s still not quite sure. And actually Louis just enjoys playing outside the whole time. He lives outside.
“But I think it is slowly dawning on them that these things matter.
“But I think when you’re that young, you just want to have fun and enjoy it.
“I feel bad, I don’t want to give them the burden of that worry.”
The duke, who was speaking ahead of his environmental Earthshot Prize awards on Sunday, expressed concern about the rise in climate anxiety in young people.
“We are seeing a rise in climate anxiety. You know, people, young people now, are growing up where their futures are basically threatened the whole time,” he said.
“It’s very unnerving and it’s very, you know, anxiety making.”
William also paid tribute to Sir David Attenborough for being a “constant support”.
The TV naturalist is a member of the Earthshot Prize Council.
“He’s been a constant support through all of this. He’s steered in his gentle David way and we’ve navigated a few things together,” William said.
“And that voice – it’s just legendary, really.”
BBC Newscast: The Prince William Interview will be available on BBC Sounds and BBC 5 Live on Thursday.