Prince William, like his father, prioritizes the environment

BOSTON — Prince William capped a three-day visit to Boston by meeting with President Joe Biden on Friday before announcing the winners of the Earthshot Prize at a gala event.

The Prince of Wales shook Biden’s hand and spoke quietly in the cold winter near the water outside 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 Award” winners were an inspiration.

William once again paid tribute to President Kennedy, “the man who inspired our mission”, saying “innovative” solutions were being offered to protect the planet.

The Kennedy legacy loomed large during a visit by William and his wife, Kate. William named his environmental award the Earthshot Award, taking inspiration from Kennedy’s moon speech that moved the nation in 1962 by declaring astronauts would set foot on the moon before the end of the decade.

William became heir less than three months ago with the death of his grandmother, but he has already been crowned Britain’s leading environmentalist.

During his visit to Boston, William was praised for calling attention to pollution and climate change and the need to scale up solutions to address them. Those efforts culminated Friday night, when the five winners of the royal couple’s Earthshot Award for environmental innovators will be announced.

“I just appreciate that they are using the platform and the publicity to bring attention to meaningful climate work,” said Joe Christo, managing director of the Stone Living Lab, which researches nature-based approaches to climate adaptation and was among the who met the royal couple in Boston Harbor on Thursday.

“I know that your father is a great environmentalist,” he said. “He seems to be doing a great job carrying on that legacy.”

The Earthshot Prize offers £1 million ($1.2 million) in prizes to each of the winners in five different categories: nature conservation, clean air, reviving the oceans, waste disposal and climate change. Winners and 15 finalists also receive help to scale up their projects to meet global demand.

Winners would be announced at MGM Music Hall in Boston as part of a dazzling extravaganza 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 grandfather, Prince Philip, the late husband of Queen Elizabeth II, and more recently his father and Elizabeth’s successor, King Charles III.

As a prince, Charles was for decades one of Britain’s most prominent environmental voices, criticizing the ills of pollution. Last year, he appeared before world leaders at a UN climate conference in Scotland and suggested that the threats posed by climate change and biodiversity loss were no different to those posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

But now that he is king, Charles is expected to be more careful with his words and to stay out of politics and government policies, in keeping with the traditions of Britain’s constitutional monarchy. This year, he did not attend the UN climate conference in Egypt.

The warning presents an opportunity for William to step into that role as the royal family’s environmental advocate and speak out more forcefully about the issues once associated with his father.

There is no better example than the Earthshot Award.

“It’s a big deal for Prince William,” said Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty Magazine. “He knows that he can attract the attention of the most important people. That’s really the core of the trip to Boston.”

After attending a welcome event Wednesday at City Hall and then a Boston Celtics game, the royal couple spent much of Thursday hearing about the threats of climate change and solutions in the works.

They got to see first-hand some innovations at an incubator for green tech start-ups called Greentown Labs in Somerville. Among them were autonomous boats that run on solar energy and low-carbon cement.

“Climate change is a global issue, so it is very important that world leaders speak about the importance of taking action,” said Lara Cottingham, vice president of strategic policy and climate impact at Greentown Labs.

William and Kate also spoke with Katherine Dafforn, co-founder of Living Seawalls, an Australian company that designs green ocean infrastructure. “For all of us, time is ticking,” William said.

The couple’s first trip to the United States since 2014 is part of the royal family’s efforts to change its international image. Following Isabel’s death, Carlos has made it clear that his will be a reduced monarchy, with less pomp and ceremony than his predecessors. William and Kate arrived in Boston on a commercial British Airways flight.


Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this Boston report.

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