Prince William was forced to crane his neck when he met 7ft 6ins tall NBA legend Yao Ming, who shares his interest in protecting endangered species. The British royal was speaking to the basketball star ahead of recording an impassioned speech on wildlife conservation for Chinese TV, which is expected to be seen by 100 million viewers.
Also at the recording in King’s College were survival expert Bear Grylls and Sir David Attenborough. William's speech follows a similar plea during his tour of China earlier this year. It is timed to coincide with a state visit to Britain by the country's President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan, who are staying in Buckingham Palace.
The future King made the point that children born this year like his daughter Princess Charlotte will be only 25 when the last wild elephants and rhinos are killed by poachers.
He began by saying: “I know this topic is sensitive for many families.
“For example, until 100 years ago my ancestors were among those who had little concern about acquiring ivory, without the knowledge of the threats of extinction, corruption, and violence that the ivory trade would lead to.
“My rejection of ivory today is not a judgement of past generations.
“It is an acceptance of the world as I find it today and the world I want my children, George and Charlotte, to inherit.”
Watched by 80 students and the VIP guests William continued: “Last year in South Africa, three rhinos were killed every single day. In the 33 years since I was born we have lost around 70 percent of Africa’s elephant population.
“Of those that are left, 20,000 are being killed every year – that is 54 elephants killed every single day. At this rate, children born this year – like my daughter Charlotte – will see the last wild elephants and rhinos die before their 25th birthdays.”