Sir Elton John (right) performs at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.

Kyle Gustafson | For The Washington Post | Getty Images

Singer Elton John has waded into a furor about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s use of private jets, calling on the British media to stop what he called “assassinations” of the couple’s characters.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been criticized in recent weeks after claims they had taken four private jets in the space of 11 days, despite their championing of environmental causes.

One of the trips publicized by the media was to Elton John’s home in Nice to celebrate the Duchess of Sussex’s birthday.

The singer took to Instagram to defend the royal couple Monday, saying he was “deeply distressed” by what he called Monday’s “distorted and malicious account in the press surrounding the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s private stay at my home in Nice last week.”

He said he felt a duty to protect Harry and his family because of his close friendship with the late Princess Diana, who died from injuries sustained during a car crash in Paris in 1997. Paparazzi pursuing the car were widely blamed for the accident and Diana’s death, although an investigation later found that the driver of the car had well over the legal level of alcohol in his blood.

“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,” Elton John said, calling on the media to “cease these relentless and untrue assassinations on their character that are spuriously crafted on an almost daily basis.”

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He said he and his husband, David Furnish, wanted the young family to have a private holiday “inside the safety and tranquility of our home.”

“To maintain a high level of much-needed protection, we provided them with a private jet flight,” he said.

Carbon neutrality

Harry and Meghan have promoted their charitable work for various causes, the environment being one of them. In a post on the couple’s own Instagram account in July, the prince was quoted as saying that “only now are we starting to notice and understand the damage that we’ve been causing. With nearly 7.7 billion people inhabiting this Earth, every choice, every footprint, every action makes a difference.”

The couple have also said they will only have two children as part of their contribution to helping the environment.

Elton John said that to support the royals’ commitment to the environment, he had ensured their flight was carbon neutral by making a contribution to a company that allows people to offset their carbon emissions with contributions to various carbon reduction projects, like tree planting and reforestation.

Buckingham Palace has reportedly declined to comment on the row.

There is an almost obsessive coverage of the royal family in the U.K. but relations between the press and the royals are tense given instances of intrusion into private lives. Prince Harry and his brother William are known to dislike the press, yet there is an awareness and acknowledgement in the family that it also needs the media to promote its work in, and value to, modern society.

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