Written by Daniel Bates in New York and Euan Stone
20:30 18 September 2023, updated 21:00 18 September 2023
- Tomorrow William will announce the 15 finalists for this year’s Earthshot Prize
Prince William said it was “very good to be back” in the US after arriving for the announcement of the 2023 Earthshot Prize finalists.
The Prince of Wales said that “no one is as optimistic and creative as the American people” upon his arrival at Newark Airport last night on a two-day trip.
William, who was traveling on a commercial plane and was traveling without the Princess of Wales, headed directly from the airport to Governors Island, which is located in New York Harbor.
There he was scheduled to learn about the Billion Oyster Project, which aims to make the waters around New York clean by placing a billion oyster shells in them by 2035 to act as natural filters.
Tomorrow William will announce the 15 finalists for this year’s Earthshot Prize, which recognizes companies and projects focused on climate solutions.
There appear to be no plans to see his estranged brother while he’s in the US – just days after Prince Harry’s Invictus Games ended in Dusseldorf, Germany.
William helped establish the awards in 2020, and each year five winners receive £1 million for their project.
Read more: Did William steal Harry’s environmental crown? How the Warring Princes struggle to be the greenest royal family with sponsorships, awards and eco-friends
Upon his arrival at the airport, he said: “It is so good to be back in the United States. No one is as optimistic and creative as the American people, so it is fitting that we unveil the Earthshot finalists this year in New York City.
80 years ago, the world came together in this great city to find a new way, through the United Nations, to solve our common challenges.
“I know our generation can take the bold action we need to make changes toward a healthy, sustainable world. The challenge may seem monumental, but as John F. Kennedy taught us, we rise to a challenge not because it is easy, but because it is hard. And it is vital.”
On Governors Island, William was expected to meet school children studying marine biology and speak with staff of the Billion Oyster Project.
He was scheduled to see the giant pile of oyster shells donated by 75 New York restaurants instead of sending them to landfills.
And then – despite the gray sky and rain – he was to wade into the East River from a small beach and put some clams in the water.
The Prince left the Princess of Wales at home with the children as he traveled to the US – and Kate is also not expected to join him at the Earthshot Awards in Singapore in November.
William was in Boston last year to announce the 2020 Earthshot Prize winners.
William founded the awards in 2020, saying he wanted to turn “the current pessimism surrounding environmental issues into optimism by celebrating the people and places that are driving change”.
Read more: Prince Harry says ‘don’t define people by their back story’ in tearful farewell speech to Invictus Games competitors – after week-long event with wife Meghan Markle by his side
Each year between 2021 and 2030, an awards ceremony will be held to honor winners in the five award categories who create innovations that address environmental issues. Each winner is awarded £1 million to support and expand their work.
But this is William’s first visit to New York since 2014 and was postponed from last year due to the death of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.
Ahead of William’s arrival, a Kensington Palace spokesman said: “The Prince was incredibly appreciative of the love and support shown by the American people during that time.”
He added: “He is very much looking forward to returning to New York this week, and hopes to meet as many New Yorkers as possible.”
During the trip, William is scheduled to visit a fire station in Manhattan, meet first responders and talk about mental health – and his trip comes just one week after the 22nd anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
He is also scheduled to meet with UN Secretary-General António Guterres during the week in which the UN General Assembly meets.
A Kensington Palace spokesman said that a meeting with US President Joe Biden, who is attending the meeting, is “unlikely”, as the two men met last year in Boston.
It comes just days after his brother Prince Harry told veterans they “shouldn’t feel lost without a uniform” during an emotional closing speech at the Invictus Games – three years after he was stripped of his military titles in the wake of Megxit.
The Duke of Sussex was visibly emotional in his final heartfelt speech at the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games in Düsseldorf, Germany.
The 39-year-old said during his five-minute closing remarks that they “don’t need to rely on the uniform” and shouldn’t “feel lost without it.”
Prince Harry himself has not worn a uniform since he and Meghan left the UK in 2020 and was stripped of his military titles.
At the Queen’s funeral last year, Harry was photographed wearing a suit while his father, King Charles, and older brother, Prince William, wore their uniforms.
At the Invictus Games, Harry added in his speech about why veterans no longer need to rely on their uniforms: “Why?” Because everything you need is already within you. Tomorrow, both of you will leave with memories that are different and unique to you.
“But my hope is that every memory that is made, brings a smile to your face with a sense of belonging and an opportunity for you and your family to look forward with value and purpose.” ‘
Harry also told the contestants how their “vulnerability” had “opened the hearts” of millions of people around the world.
Meghan Markle stood alongside her husband in the crowd in a glowing green dress. During the ceremony, she couldn’t hide her pride as she smiled at Team USA as they took their place in the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games.
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