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A limit on royal babies? Prince Harry thinks small families are best, public agrees

Prince Harry’s recent comments on choosing a small family for the sake of the planet caused a welcome swell in media coverage of population issues and enquiries for Population Matters as the ‘go-to-organisation’ on the subject. According to a survey, the majority of Brits agree with the Duke of Sussex that it is necessary to limit one’s family size for the environment, while newly released data on UK births confirms an ongoing trend towards smaller families.

In an interview with Population Matters Patron Dr Jane Goodall for British Vogue, Prince Harry declared that he and Meghan Markle would have “Two, maximum” out of concern for the planet when prompted by Dr Goodall about desired family size.

“I’ve always thought: this place is borrowed. And, surely, being as intelligent as we all are, or as evolved as we all are supposed to be, we should be able to leave something better behind for the next generation.”

– HRH The Duke of Sussex

The Prince’s statement caused a media frenzy about hypothetical royal babies and more importantly, positive family planning choices. When polled by YouGov, 53% of respondents said they agree that it is necessary to limit the number of children you have for the sake of the planet.

New data released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) demonstrate that people are putting their beliefs into practice, with the average number of children per woman in England and Wales having decreased from 1.76 in 2017 to 1.7 in 2018. The number of live births per 1,000 people is now 11.1 – the lowest rate since record-keeping began in 1938.

“Fewer births and lower fertility rates are good news for the UK. People are choosing to have fewer kids because they understand the advantages, to their families and wider society. A higher population means more pressure on the NHS and schools, more land being consumed for more housing that is more difficult for people to afford, more traffic and a lower quality of life. They recognise that it puts our environment under threat and compromises our ability to meet our climate change targets. It’s a fantastically responsible and effective choice that Harry and Meghan have made, because choosing to have one less child – particularly in a rich developed economy like the UK – is the most effective eco-action you can take.”

– Robin Maynard, Director, Population Matters

Did the environment play a role in your family planning decisions? Do you agree with Prince Harry? Let us know by sending us an email at


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