Prince Charles has given an impassioned speech about the importance of saving the world's coral reefs.

Prince Charles at the IYOR meeting via Clarence House Twitter (c)

Prince Charles at the IYOR meeting via Clarence House Twitter (c)

The 69-year-old royal was joined by his youngest son Prince Harry at a meeting organised by The Prince's International Sustainability Unit, which brought together marine experts and global organisations to explore how different sectors can work towards helping coral reefs recover from threats such as pollution and climate change.

During the meeting Prince Charles gave a moving speech in which he urged those gathered to allow the coral reefs to "heal themselves", as it may be the last chance they have.

He said: "The speed of the ecological marine cataclysm that we have engendered is such that not only will our children be faced with the monochrome legacy of the graveyard of destroyed reefs and the collapse of marine biodiversity, but the majority of us alive today will stand witness to the process. How, Ladies and Gentlemen, is it possible that, as apparently intelligent beings, we can allow this to happen?

"And yet - and yet - the Ocean has an astonishing ability to heal itself, if, if given the chance. So Ladies and Gentlemen, we simply have to give it that chance, perhaps its last, for we must not only conserve what remains of these unique and vitally important ecosystems, but we must also allow Nature to restore what has already been lost."

Charles hopes that the meeting - which was organised as part of the International Year of the Reef (IYOR) - will help to "galvanise" the start of real change, as he believes the world can "overcome" the crisis faced by coral reefs.

He concluded: "I can only pray, therefore, that this meeting helps galvanize a global movement during this Year of the Reef to catalyse long-lasting initiatives that will increase the resiliency of coral reefs in order that they may survive the threats they face - at our doing.

"So we need action - not just more words - more than ever before and I can assure you, I am keenly interested to learn, in the next hour, how you intend to play your role.

"You certainly have my word that I will do whatever I can, wherever I can, to help stem the tide of this catastrophe and to restore hope that the right actions must and indeed, will be taken. So Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for all your efforts and your participation in this challenge that I hope we shall overcome."