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Charles plea for oceans clean-up

The Prince of Wales has made an impassioned plea for action to end the dumping of plastics in the world's oceans - an issue that needed to be tackled for his future grandchild.

Charles called on governments, plastic producers and the public to act to end the littering of the seas which had left him "horrified".

But he remained positive saying there was a solution to the problem caused by the "throw-away society", and that society had to move quicker to a circular economy - where "materials are recovered, recycled and reused instead of created, used and then thrown away".

The heir to the throne spoke at a day-long conference in Washington on plastics in the marine environment, attended by David Miliband, co-chair of the Global Ocean Commission which helped stage the event.

The former foreign secretary would not be drawn on whether he had spoken to his brother Labour leader Ed Miliband ahead of the election but asked about his voting habits said: "I'm very open about who I vote for."

Mr Miliband, now based in the US, also laughed when he was asked how many kitchens he had but again remained tight lipped on the subject. His younger sibling was criticised in the press for having two kitchens in his London home.

Charles told the delegates, who met at an exclusive Washington hotel: "One issue that we absolutely cannot ignore is that of the increasing quantity of plastic waste in the marine environment.

"I was horrified to learn that, according to recent research, we collectively allow as much as eight million tonnes of plastic to enter the oceans every year.

"Today, almost half of all marine mammals now have plastic in their gut and I know I am not the only person haunted by the tragic images of seabirds, particularly albatrosses, that have been found dead, washed up on beaches after mistaking a piece of plastic for a meal.

"The fact that a recent study estimates that by 2025 there will be one ton of plastic for every three tonnes of fish in the sea is not what I call encouraging."

Charles added that the solution to the problem was at hand and that "speaking as a grandfather with a new grandchild due to appear in this world in a month's time, I think we probably owe it to everyone else's grandchildren to grasp that solution."

At the start of the day Charles joked about feeling jet-lagged as his US visit began with a tour of towering monuments to major figures from American history.

Charles and Camilla visited impressive memorials to President Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jnr in the heart of the Washington on the first full day of their trip.

They had arrived in the US capital last night on a charted plane and as they climbed the steps to Lincoln's memorial a well wisher asked Charles how he was feeling and he replied ''I'm trying to work out at the moment'', before adding ''jet-lagged''.

As they walked down its steps they paused at the spot where King gave his famous "I have a dream'' speech in 1963.

The address by the civil rights leader was a defining moment in the push for greater freedoms by black Americans.

At King's nearby memorial they were joined by leading figures from the US civil rights movement Jessie Jackson and Congressman John Lewis who helped organise the famous Selma march - dramatised in the movie Selma starring British actor David Oyelowo as King.

Mr Lewis, then a student activist, and Hosea Williams, another notable civil rights leader, led more than 600 protesters across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965.

They planned to march from Selma to Montgomery to highlight the need for voting rights in the state of Alabama but were attacked by state troopers in a violent confrontation that became known as "Bloody Sunday''.

During a visit to Washington's national archive museum the prince was shown a telegram sent by the US embassy in London on behalf of a young Charles to the State Department in 1957.

The document asked for instructions about the type of fuel that was required for a toy car that the heir to the throne had had been given.

Charles also marked the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta by examining a 1297 copy of the historic document.

The first Magna Carta was drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury and agreed by King John on June 15, 1215 to make peace with a group of rebel barons.

It attempted to limit the powers of the medieval king and was reissued and reaffirmed on many occasions in subsequent years and is embodied in the American Bill of Rights and the US constitution.

Meanwhile Camilla visited the Shakespeare Theatre Company where she toured the theatre, meeting staff and young performers.


From Belfast Telegraph