More about the planet or the Royals? William and Kate visit Boston


Credit: Kally Proctor

WSPN’s Kally Proctor presents a news commentary on the media’s coverage of the recent Earthshot Awards in Boston.

Kally Proctor

The Prince and Princess of Wales recently came to Boston the week of Dec. 2 for their first trip outside the UK since the coronation of King Charles III. Symbolism was in full bloom, along with plenty of pomp and circumstance.

The stated catalyst for the trip was to celebrate the prince’s second annual “Earthshot Awards” on Friday night, bestowing over $1.2 million to winners from each of five categories of environmental initiatives – “clean our air,” “protect and restore nature,” “revive our oceans,” “build a waste-free world” and “fix our climate.” The name of the awards ceremony was inspired by JFK’s 1962 Moonshot Challenge , which sought to land on the moon by the end of the 1960s.

As for the Earthshot awards, I’m not sure that around $6 million carved into five portions actually does much for climate change.

But it can’t hurt.

Personally, I think the highlight of the three day visit was seeing the Royals courtside at the Celtics game against the Miami Heat on Thursday night. William and Kate sat with Massachusetts governor-elect Maura Healey and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, in addition to Celtics ownership and other “normal” courtside fans.

Despite the fact that the game ended around 3:00 a.m. UK time, I must admit, William and Kate looked surprisingly spry. Maybe they had a nap on their lie-flat seats in first class on the flight over. Yes, they flew commercially along with other normal rich people in the 14 person first class cabin on a British Airways flight regularly scheduled flight from London to Boston – avoiding private jet service, another meaningful symbol that Biden’s Climate Tzar John Kerry doesn’t seem to get. Still, with roundtrip first class airfares between London and Boston currently priced at upwards of $24,000 per person, British Airways first class is quite exclusive – especially when you factor in the Royal couple’s entourage: the couple’s Private Secretary, Digital Communications and Social Media Manager and personal hairdresser.

Even if courtside tickets and lie-flat first class seats are illusive to all but the rich and famous, seeing the Royals in the arena along with other non-Royals, and otherwise flying commercially along with other normal passengers, certainly makes them seem more approachable and perhaps more contemporary than previous Royals. This impression is all the more important as the new docu-series, “Harry and Meghan” made its Netflix debut on Dec. 8, presumably with more allusions of ostracism and critiques against the Royal Family, ranging from racism to pedophilia.

Hopefully, William and Kate slept well back at the Four Season Hotel, where published room rates for Friday night start at $925 per night. Boston Magazine reported in January 2020 that the 2,590 square foot Royal Suite – which includes a piano rumored to have been played by Elton John and Billy Joel – goes for the princely sum of $13,000 per night. Did William and Kate get a free upgrade?

Harkening back to JFK’s Moonshot challenge seems to be a popular thing these days.

Former president Barack Obama and current president Joe Biden have a moonshot of their own called the “Cancer Moonshot,” backed by a minimum of $1.8 million in funding for 2017-2023 with the objective of reducing cancer by 50% over the next 25 years.

Will $1.8 billion make a difference? Maybe, or maybe not.

But it can’t hurt.

Keep in mind, however, that all this cancer and Earthshot business starts with JFK, the closest thing we have to royalty. It’s not surprising that Prince William toured selected exhibitions at the JFK Library on Friday, day three of his trip, where he was greeted by JFK’s daughter, Caroline Kennedy, and her two children. Not to be upstaged, President Biden carved out a spontaneous detour from his previously scheduled trip to Boston to join Prince William at the JFK Library for a brief meet-and-greet.

Of course, when the Royals first arrived on Wednesday, there were the perfunctory ceremonial meetings with Healy and Wu, topped by Prince William’s speech at City Hall Plaza to an enthusiastic but watered-down crowd estimated by WBUR to be include “thousands of onlookers.” During his speech, Prince William thanked the “hardy Bostonians braving the rain.” The Prince of Wales also explained during his approximately two minute speech that Boston was an “obvious” choice for the first Earthshot Prize ceremony outside of the UK because of the combination of Boston’s academic and research activities, as well as its “vibrant” start-up culture.

The backdrop was quite colorful: City Hall was among 15 landmarks lit up in green, presumably to connote a greener planet, although you could have easily thought it was to celebrate the Celtics.

Was the extra lighting good for the planet? Maybe, or maybe not, but it was quite colorful.

Leading up to the awards ceremony on Friday night they visited some pre-selected “do-good” spots…the kind of events you would expect to see the Royals at. They visited climate tech startup Greentown Labs in Somerville, Chelsea nonprofit Roca, the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

As for the Earthshot awards themselves, the winners for the five categories were Mukuru Clean Stoves for “clean our air,” Kheyti for “protect and restore nature,” the Queensland Indigenous Women Rangers Network for “revive our oceans,” Notpla for “build a waste-free world” and the 44.01 Project for “fix our climate.”

The event also featured performances from artists such as Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, KSI and Yemi Alade and Shawn Mendes. In addition to the festivities, William also gave speeches celebrating the people and places driving change: the Earthshot Prize finalists and winners, as well as other environmentalists from around the world.

There are a few places worth noting that William and Kate did not visit. They didn’t walk the Freedom Trail, missing out on places like the Old North Church, Faneuil Hall and the commemorative site of the 1770 Boston Massacre. They also skipped over Bunker Hill and Lexington Green. That part of history didn’t fit their narrative.

On a lighter note, they also missed out on pizza from Regina Pizzeria, lobster rolls from James Hook and clam chowder from the Union Oyster House. Maybe next time.

So, with the Earthshot Award ceremony over, it was time for the Royals to return home on Saturday, having made a big splash here in Boston.

The earth may or may not be in a better place.

Regardless, I think the Royals are.

After all, it can’t hurt.