Prince Charles Under Fire for $80,000 Train Ride

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REUTERS/Hakon Mosvold Larsen/Scanpix

Prince Charles had hoped his five-day train trip through Britain would raise awareness about sustainability and boost his street cred as an environmentalist. Instead, criticism from green groups has him looking like an out-of-touch, playboy prince.

Charles’ trip on the Royal Train, which kicked off yesterday, will cost taxpayers at least $80,000. The lavish locomotive includes a grand dining room, a private study, and a bedroom suite replete with bath and his and her beds. Given that the British government is set to lay off thousands of public sector workers as part of its austerity package, Charles’ choo-choo looks rather opulent. Does a core staff of 14 really need eight carriages?

Benny Peiser, Director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, dismissed the trip as “a clear case of double standards.”

“Prince Charles and other super-rich people are not aware of the discrepancy between what they preach and what they do,” he told the Daily Mail. “His lifestyle creates a carbon footprint which is 100 times that of any other person in the U.K.”

“If he is really concerned about the environment, he should stop using cars, planes or in this case trains, and practice what he preaches.”

Although Charles is unlikely to roll out the horse and buggy just yet, he has made sacrifices in recent months to show solidarity with the plebs. In July his annual budget report revealed that over the preceding year he nearly halved his travel budget to $1 million in a bid to reduce his emissions. And to prove he’s got a touch of recessionista in him, he halved his entertainment expenses to $380,000, and made the Canadians pay for his state visit there in Nov. 2009. He even replaced extravagant dinners with more modest drinks parties and, in a move sure to make him the laughing-stock of European royalty, he cut back on canap├ęs.

As for the rail journey, Charles’ official spokesman continues to defend the prince’s decision. “It is not practical to use scheduled trains in such a busy program which has ten locations in five days. On this occasion the Royal Train was the best solution.”

Perhaps the next $80,000 should be spent on a new P.R. consultant?