The Earl and Countess of Wessex have taken their children litter picking to encourage others to follow suit.
Edward and Sophie and their children, Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn, collected rubbish on Southsea beach in Portsmouth on Sunday morning alongside Beachwatch volunteers.
They warned of a rise in single-use plastic pollution over the past few months and a lack of advice on how to safely dispose of PPE and face masks.
Sophie said: “There is no information about how people should dispose of them.”
She added: “We aren’t being told what to do with them. Obviously we would want to encourage people to use these lovely reusable masks, but sometimes you can’t. It’s so difficult because councils are stretched at the moment.
“But if they were to make recycling units available for people to use.
“Medical facilities and the medical profession obviously know what to do with it, they will have recycling facilities.
“I don’t know whether they incinerate, I’m not sure… but we just don’t know what to do with them. In an ideal world we would all just use these lovely reusable ones.”
Edward, 56, and Sophie decided to take the children on the beach clean to help encourage them to volunteer.
Their daughter Louise, 16, is beginning her Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award and will need to do volunteering as part of it, an aide said.
But she had to deal with her mischievous brother, James, who started prodding the back of her legs when they were both given grabbers.
As they scoured the beach, the royal party found a type of octopus and a sea snail.
Sergio Di Dino, from Southsea Beachwatch, said the Wessexes had picked up items including fishing lines, bottle tops, straws, food wrappers, squid used as bait to catch dogfish and glass.
He said: “We are hugely grateful for this show of unity. It highlights the problems we are facing and how people of all kinds can play their part in protecting the local environment.”
Speaking about face masks, Mr Di Dino added: “It’s a very new problem due to the new normal.
“What has happened since Covid is that all the progress made on limiting plastic seems to have been rescinded.
“We have seen an explosion of plastic.”
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