As first in line to the British throne, Prince Charles’ actions are often seen as an example to others.
And while his critics may argue his green credentials do not stand up to scrutiny, he is set to confound his detractors by addressing an energy conference in Abu Dhabi – as a hologram.
In a move to keep his environmental impact to a minimum, Prince Charles will save an estimated 15 tonnes of carbon that would have been generated by flying himself and his staff 11,265km (7,000 miles) to the World Future Energy Summit in the UAE capital.
Instead, a three-dimensional image of Charles will be seen giving a five-minute talk. The speech was recorded at his Highgrove home last month.
The image of Queen Elizabeth II’s eldest son will be transformed into a hologram-style image using technology based on a centuries’-old illusion used in Victorian music halls, called ghosting.
A projector will beam an image of the Prince to the floor. It will then be reflected on to a paper-thin sheet of foil to create an optical illusion that will make him appear as a 3D image on stage.
Former United States Vice-President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore used similar technology to appear as a hologram at London’s Wembley Stadium at the beginning of the Live Earth concerts earlier this year.
Charles was criticised in January when he and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, flew with 12 staff to Philadelphia, in the US, to receive an award from Gore, honouring him as an environmentalist. That trip pumped an estimated 20 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
The idea of the virtual Prince came from the Abu Dhabi conference organisers, who asked British events firm Revolution to produce special events for the three-day summit that starts on January 21, according to reports in the British press.
Matt Sims told the Daily Mail: “He will appear as a three-dimensional holographic image. All credit to His Royal Highness who was keen to do it. It’s all about zero carbon emissions.”
Prince Charles wore a light-coloured suit to film the speech – because if he had worn dark clothes, only his head would have been visible. He will be seen standing, making gestures and moving around the stage.
The video is not a true hologram as you cannot see different parts of the image by moving around. The technology is only a little more expensive than shooting a standard high-definition video, said Sims.
A spokesman for Clarence House, the Prince’s official residence, said: “His Royal Highness was very happy to do it. He often does video messages but this is his first hologram.”
The World Future Energy Summit takes place from January 21 to 23.