‘Extremely grateful’: UK royals receive warm welcome to Boston, sit courtside at Celtics game

BOSTON — The first overseas trip by the Prince and Princess of Wales since the death of Queen Elizabeth II began Wednesday, an occasion to show the world as much about who they are not as who they are.

With their three-day visit to Boston, focused on Prince William’s initiative to find the environmental entrepreneurs of a new generation, supplemented with trips to an anti-poverty program, child development researchers and local flood defenses, the couple hope to demonstrate that they aren’t the last remnants of a dying institution. Instead, Americans will see the younger face of a monarchy that is tackling important issues as it seeks to remain relevant in modern, multicultural Britain.

Upon landing, William released a statement on the couple’s official Twitter account that thanked local residents “for their many tributes paid to the late queen,” noting that his grandmother recalled her 1976 bicentennial visit to Boston “with great fondness.”

“Catherine and I are delighted to be back in the United States and are extremely grateful to Governor Baker and The First Lady of Massachusetts for their warm welcome into Boston,” the statement said.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito greeted the couple at Boston Logan International Airport before they headed to City Hall to meet with Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, Massachusetts Attorney General and Gov.-Elect Maura Healey, U.S. Ambassador to Australia Caroline Kennedy and Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.

Prince William addressed a crowd that had gathered in City Hall Plaza, where the public was welcome.

“There are two reasons why Boston was the obvious choice to be the home of The Earthshot Prize in its second year. Sixty years ago, President John F. Kennedy’s ‘Moonshot’ speech laid down a challenge to American innovation and ingenuity. ‘We choose to go to the moon,’ he said, ‘not because it is easy but because it is hard,’” said the Prince of Wales. “It was the Moonshot speech that inspired me to launch the Earthshot Prize with the aim of doing the same for climate change as President Kennedy did for the space race. And where better to hold this year’s awards ceremony than in President Kennedy’s hometown, in partnership with his daughter and the foundation that continues in his name.”

The Royal couple took to Twitter after leaving City Hall Plaza acknowledging the people from Boston for giving them a warm welcome.

“Looking forward to our time in the city, meeting inspiring communities and showcasing our 15 fantastic #EarthshotBoston2022 finalists to the world,” the Princess and Princess wrote.

Following their stop at City Hall Plaza, the Royals sit court-side at the Boston Celtics game Wednesday night at the TD Garden. They were sitting next to Governor-elect Maura Healey and Mayor Michelle Wu.

William and Kate’s last visit to the United States was in 2014, not long after their wedding. During that trip, the glamorous young couple were feted as they toured the eastern U.S.

Eight years later, now in their 40s and with three young children, the prince and princess are finally having a return engagement.

The choice of Boston, the birthplace of President John F. Kennedy, as their destination is symbolic. Kennedy’s 1962 speech setting out the goal of putting men on the moon by the end of that decade inspired William’s Earthshot Prize, aimed at finding solutions to climate change and other environmental problems by the end of this one.

Later in the week, William and Kate will visit Roca Inc., highlighting the racial equity group’s efforts to improve the lives of young people by addressing issues such as poverty, incarceration and trauma from urban violence. They will also visit Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, a leader in research into the long-term impact of early childhood experiences.

But throughout the trip, William’s eye will be on the Earthshot Prize.

Earthshot offers 1 million pounds ($1.2 million) in prize money to the winners of five separate categories: nature protection, clean air, ocean revival, waste elimination and climate change. The winners and all 15 finalists also receive help in expanding their projects to meet global demand.

The winners are set to be announced Friday at Boston’s MGM Music Hall as part of a glitzy show headlined by Eilish, Annie Lennox, Ellie Goulding and Chloe x Halle. The show will also feature videos narrated by naturalist David Attenborough and actor Cate Blanchett.

President Biden announced Wednesday that he will visit with The Prince and Princess of Wales while they are in Boston on Friday.

“The president intends to greet the Prince and Princess of Wales in Boston. We’re still finalizing the details. I don’t have any anything more to share,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told the press.

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