Singer Sir Elton John has defended the Duke and Duchess of Sussex over their use of private jets.
The star said that he provided Harry and Meghan and their baby son Archie with a private flight to “maintain a high level of much-needed protection”.
He hit back at what he called “these relentless and untrue assassinations on their character”.
The couple have faced mounting criticism after reportedly taking four private jet journeys in 11 days, rather than opting for commercial flights, despite speaking out on environmental issues.
Buckingham Palace earlier declined to comment.
Sir Elton wrote on Twitter that he had made sure the flight was carbon neutral by making the “appropriate contribution” to a carbon footprint fund.
“I am deeply distressed by today’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.
“Prince Harry’s mother, Diana Princess Of Wales was one of my dearest friends. 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.
“After a hectic year continuing their hard work and dedication to charity, David and I wanted the young family to have a private holiday inside the safety and tranquility of our home.
I am deeply distressed by today’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. pic.twitter.com/WjVRDSMX0z
— Elton John (@eltonofficial) August 19, 2019
“To maintain a high level of much-needed protection, we provided them with a private jet flight.
“To support Prince Harry’s commitment to the environment, we ensured their flight was carbon neutral, by making the appropriate contribution to Carbon Footprint.
“I highly respect and applaud both Harry and Meghan’s commitment to charity and I’m calling on the press to cease these relentless and untrue assassinations on their character that are spuriously crafted on an almost daily basis. Elton.”
The musician famously performed at the funeral of Harry’s late mother Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997, singing a specially reworked version of his hit song Candle In The Wind.
He was also among the celebrity guests invited to Harry and Meghan’s wedding in Windsor last year.
The Sussexes’ trip to Nice to stay in Sir Elton’s home followed a reported holiday to Ibiza to mark the duchess’s 38th birthday earlier this month.
US chat show host Ellen DeGeneres also defended the couple posting on Instagram: “Portia and I met Prince Harry and Meghan in England to talk about their work on wildlife conservation. 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.”
She did not say when she and her wife Portia de Rossi had met the royal couple.
On Monday, Harry and Meghan posted a quote by Archbishop Desmond Tutu urging their followers to overwhelm the world with “little bits” of good.
It read: “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
The accompanying caption read: “An inspiring quote for the day – wishing you a wonderful week ahead!
“The Archbishop is an anti-apartheid and human rights activist, who was honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize for his continued efforts to champion equality for all.”
But although the couple received many positive messages in response, some were critical, saying: “Doing your bit of good for the environment this week…” and “Stop flying private jets!!!!”
The duke has been vocal about environmental damage to the planet.
He said, in a quote on SussexRoyal last month: “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.”
Harry met retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu on a trip to South Africa in 2015, when he presented him with the Order of the Companion of Honour, an award given to leading individuals for outstanding achievements in arts, culture and religion.
The duke and duchess and their baby son Archie are paying an official visit to South Africa in the autumn – their first royal tour as a family.