On Monday, the Prince of Wales began his two-day visit to the city, where he hopes to further enhance his campaign for the planet.
William, 41, will take part in some top-level lobbying, meet fellow environmentalists and philanthropists and business leaders. He will also be promoting his Earthshot Prize, which seeks to garner what the prince calls "urgent optimism" as it finds solutions to solve the planet's crises.
The centerpiece of his visit is set to be the Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit on Tuesday, when Prince William will join forces with other supporters of his environmental honor, including Caroline Kennedy, the U.S. Ambassador to Australia. Also among the speakers and special guests will be former New Zealand Prime Minister Dame Jacinda Ardern and José Andrés, Chef and Founder of World Central Kitchen (who has also worked with William's brother Prince Harry and Meghan Markle).
On Monday, Prince William arrived by commercial flight to Newark airport. In a statement shared by Kensington Palace, he said, "It’s so good to be back in United States. No one does optimism and ingenuity like the American people, so it’s only right we unveil this year's Earthshot finalists in New York City."
He continued, "Eighty years ago, the world came together in this great city to find a new way, through the UN, to solve our shared challenges. I know our generation can take the bold action we need to make changes towards a healthy and sustainable world. The challenge may feel huge, but as John F. Kennedy taught us, we rise to the challenge not because it is easy, but because it is hard. And vital."
His first stop in the Big Apple was to see an innovative project that is helping revitalize the waterways around the city.
The Billion Oyster Project is a nonprofit working to restore oyster reefs to New York Harbor through public education initiatives. The reefs, which once flourished in New York Harbor, provide a habitat for many marine species, filter water and help shield New York City shorelines from storm damage. Since 2014, the Billion Oyster Project has introduced 122 million oysters across more than 19 acres of the Harbor, with the help of more than 11,000 students and nearly 15,000 volunteers.
Prince William met Pete Malinowski, Executive Director of the project, and was taken by boat to Governors Island, where he was introduced to volunteers, students and restauranteurs involved in the project. He also saw an oyster hatchery and a pile of oyster shells that have been donated by Manhattan restaurants that are used to help restore the oyster reefs.
The royal even sported waders and a baseball cap as he made his way into the water with the Manhattan skyline as the backdrop.
Later on Monday, the royal is scheduled to meet the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, during the UN General Assembly in New York, burnishing William's credentials as a global statesman in his newish role as Prince of Wales. Last December, William met President Joe Biden in Boston, and in March traveled to the border between Poland and Ukraine, meeting troops stationed there amid the ongoing conflict. Then, he spoke out about the freedoms that the soldiers were there to protect.
It was something of a welcome back for Prince William as last year's Earthshot Prize ceremony was held in Boston in December. Finalists from that occasion will be reunited with the royal and catch up with each other as the summit showcases their progress and impact over the past year.
The Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit on Tuesday will also unveil the 15 Earthshot Prize finalists for this year who are trailblazing climate solutions to repair our planet by 2030. They will be chosen from the prize’s five key pillars of climate solutions: Protect and Restore Nature, Clean Our Air, Revive Our Oceans, Build A Waste-Free World and Fix Our Climate. They will find out if they have been successful in winning one of the five $1.2 million prizes, which will be announced at the glitzy awards evening in Singapore on Nov. 7.
Prince William had been hoping to head to New York for a similar summit last fall too but had to cancel the trip stateside following the death of his grandmother Queen Elizabeth.
Instead, the royal addressed the Summit via video.
"Although it is the saddest of circumstances that means I cannot join you in person today, I am pleased to join you in video form as you gather in New York for the Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit," the Prince of Wales said. "During this time of grief, I take great comfort in your continued enthusiasm, optimism and commitment to the Earthshot Prize and what we are trying to achieve."
"Protecting the environment was a cause close to my grandmother's heart, and I know she would have been delighted to hear about this event and the support you're all giving our Earthshot finalists, the next generation of environmental pioneers," he added.
Prince William will likely hurry back to the U.K. after his events wrap on Tuesday. That's because King Charles and Queen Camilla are also heading overseas this week. Buckingham Palace previously announced that the King, 74, and Queen, 76, are heading to France from Sept. 20 to Sept. 22 for a state visit. The couple were originally scheduled to visit the country in March, but they postponed the trip due to riots happening across France at the time.
While Prince William is not required to be in the U.K. when his father is traveling, he is one of the King's Counsellors of State — one of the royals who can carry out constitutional duties for King Charles if he is abroad or unwell.
Meanwhile on Monday, Prince William's wife, Kate Middleton, made her own outing in the U.K. The Princess of Wales, 41, visited the Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton in Somerset on Monday, marking the first outing in her new royal role. Over the summer, King Charles appointed his daughter-in-law as the Commodore-in-Chief, Fleet Air Arm (FAA). She took over the role from Prince Andrew, who held the position until 2022.