BOSTON– Prince William capped a three-day visit to Boston by meeting President Joe Biden on Friday before announcing his Earthshot Prize winners at a gala event.
The Prince of Wales shook hands with Biden and spoke softly in the winter chill near the water in front of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library and Museum. He also met Caroline Kennedy, the late President’s daughter, and told her that the stories of the Earthshot Prize winners were an inspiration.
William again paid tribute to President Kennedy, “the man who inspired our mission,” saying that the “groundbreaking” solutions to protect the planet were being offered.
Kennedy’s legacy became clear during the visit of William and his wife Kate. William dubbed his environmental award the Earthshot Prize and was inspired by Kennedy’s Moonshot speech, which mobilized the nation in 1962 by declaring that astronauts would set foot on the moon before the decade was out.
William succeeded to the throne with the death of his grandmother less than three months ago, but he has already been crowned Britain’s foremost environmentalist.
During his visit to Boston, William commended his attention to pollution and climate change and the need to expand solutions to address them. Those efforts culminated on Friday night when the five winners of the royal couple’s Earthshot award for environmental innovators were announced.
“I just appreciate that they’re using the platform and the public to raise awareness of meaningful climate work,” said Joe Christo, executive director of the Stone Living Lab, which researches nature-based approaches to climate adaptation and was among those the royal couple met in Boston Harbor on Thursday .
“I know his father is a big environmentalist,” he said. “He seems to be doing a great job of continuing that legacy.”
The Earthshot Prize is offering £1 million (US$1.2 million) in prize money to each winner in five different categories: Conservation, Clean Air, Ocean Regeneration, Waste Removal and Climate Change. The winners and all 15 finalists will also receive help to expand their projects to meet global demand.
The winners were announced at Boston’s MGM Music Hall during a glittering show headlined by Billie Eilish, Annie Lennox, Ellie Goulding and Chloe x Halle. The show will also feature videos narrated by naturalist David Attenborough and actress Cate Blanchett.
William is following in the footsteps of his environmentally conscious grandfather Prince Philip – Queen Elizabeth II’s late husband – and more recently his father and Elizabeth’s successor, King Charles III.
In his capacity as Prince, Charles was for decades one of Britain’s most prominent environmental voices, blowing up the evils of pollution. Last year, he stood before world leaders at a UN climate conference in Scotland and suggested that the threats of climate change and biodiversity loss are no different than those posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
But now that he is king, Charles is expected to be more careful of his words and, in line with the traditions of Britain’s constitutional monarchy, to stay out of politics and government politics. This year he did not attend the UN climate conference in Egypt.
The caution offers William an opportunity to take on that role as the royal family’s environmental advocate and speak more forcefully about the issues once associated with his father.
There is no better example than the Earthshot Prize.
“It’s a big deal for Prince William,” said Joe Little, editor-in-chief of Majesty Magazine. “He knows he can get the attention of the most important people. That’s really the essence of the Boston trip.”
After attending a welcome event Wednesday at City Hall and a subsequent Boston Celtics game, the royal couple spent much of Thursday learning about the threats of climate change and solutions in the works.
They got a first-hand look at some innovations at a green technology incubator called Greentown Labs in Somerville. Among them were solar-powered autonomous boats and low-carbon cement.
“Climate change is a global issue, which is why it’s so important for world leaders to speak out about the importance of taking action,” said Lara Cottingham, vice president of strategic policy and climate impact at Greentown Labs.
William and Kate also chatted with Katherine Dafforn, co-founder of Living Seawalls, an Australian company that designs eco-friendly marine infrastructure. “Time is ticking for all of us,” William said.
The couple’s first trip to the United States since 2014 is part of the royal family’s effort to transform its international image. After Elizabeth’s death, Charles made it clear that his monarchy would be a slimmed-down monarchy, with less pageantry and celebration than her predecessors. William and Kate arrived in Boston on a British Airways commercial flight.
Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report in Boston.