By Bridie Pearson-jones and Daniel Bates In New York
22:48 19 Sep 2023, updated 01:44 20 Sep 2023
Prince William won the hearts of New Yorkers and tourists when he shook their hands while on his visit to the city today.
The Prince of Wales, 41, joked to a Brazilian tourist that they had brought the Brazilian weather with them and told a British woman he’d love to come back with his family.
William even joked with a group of 60-year-old women on a celebratory joint birthday trip that they were ‘rowdy’.
Among the group, who were visiting from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada was Barb Patterson, 60.
She said: ‘He said I won’t ask how old you are. I said I’m 60. He said let’s say 50’.
Earthshot finalist in full..
For The Earthshot Prize to Protect and Restore Nature, the 2023 Finalists are
Acción Andina, Peru: Acción Andina is a grassroots, community-based initiative working across South America to protect native high Andean forest ecosystems for their invaluable benefits to nature and millions of people in the region.
Freetown the Tree Town, Sierra Leone: Combining community stewardship and digital tools, the City of Freetown’s initiative, Freetown the Tree Town, is galvanising a grassroots movement for tree preservation in Sierra Leone’s capital.
Belterra, Brazil: Belterra works with smallholder farmers in Brazil to restore forests through regenerative agricultural practices and to create market incentives for sustainably grown crops.
For The Earthshot Prize to Clean Our Air, the 2023 Finalists
Polish Smog Alert, Poland: One of the world’s most effective conservation campaign groups, Polish Smog Alert, helps secure policy change and air quality improvements across Poland and has goals to do the same across Central and Eastern Europe.
ENSO, UK: ENSO creates tyres specially designed for electric vehicles that are more sustainable and reduce harmful tyre pollution, leading to cleaner air for everyone.
GRST, Hong Kong: With the development of a new way to build and recycle vital lithium-ion batteries, GRST’s solution offers a pathway to make the electric cars of the future even cleaner.
For The Earthshot Prize to Revive Our Oceans, the 2023 Finalists are:
Abalobi, South Africa: Using easy-to-scale technology, Abalobi works with small fishing communities to record their catch data and to ensure a fair and improved livelihood from sustainable fishing.
Coastal 500, Global (US HQ): A global network of mayors and local government leaders, Coastal 500 is restoring ocean habitats and advocating for coastal protection internationally.
WildAid Marine Programme, Global (US HQ): Global non-profit organisation WildAid uses partnership building and knowledge sharing to address the world’s ocean conservation needs.
Rebecca MacEachern, 60, another member of the group, said that William joked: ‘Isn’t 60 the rowdy age?’
She added that William was a ‘lovely man’ and it was a ‘thrill’ to meet him.
William smiled and laughed as he shook people’s hands, posing for selfies and asking where people were from.
As he made his way down the line of people, one woman called her mother and showed her that William was a few feet away, causing her to scream in shock.
A British woman who asked William to come back said: ‘He said he wanted to come back with Kate and the children’.
The walkabout happened by FDNY Ten House, a fire station opposite the World Trade Centre.
William spent 30 minutes being shown around by Laura Kavanagh including a memorial to the six firefighters from the station who died on 9/11.
But even a royal visit couldn’t escape New York life and a rat ran across the front of the fire station while he was inside.
Earlier William met with Prince Albert of Monaco and former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates in New York as he joined forces at the Earthshot Summit.
The Prince of Wales opted for a classic suit and skinny tie as he met with his fellow royal to learn how various world leaders are tackling environmental issues.
He then headed on stage to announce the Earthshot winners and revealed he started his day by going for a run in Central Park, while also that the pandemic and the Queen’s death delayed him heading to the Big Apple sooner.
‘I decided to join the hordes of New Yorkers doing their morning routine in Central Park,’ he said.
‘It was wonderful waking up in Central Park on a Sunday morning, rather than the rain we had yesterday,’ he went on.
‘It was beautiful getting some fresh air, and it’s been wonderful getting back.
‘I think 2014 was the last time I was here in New York, I’ve been trying to come back but with Covid and my grandmother passing away last year has meant I’ve not been able to come.’
After annoucning the winners of the Earthshot prize, he to a fire station to meet with first responders.
William was without his wife, Princess Kate – who today visited a youth centre in east London – while Albert’s wife, Princess Charlene, also stayed home.
The future king is visit New York to attend meetings and events linked to the Earthshot Prize and learn how New York is tackling environmental issues, visit first responders and meet with leaders at the United Nations.
Albert also has his own charity to tackle climate change.
The Prince of Wales began his two-day US visit in dramatic style, crossing the Hudson River with the Manhattan skyline in the background.
William arrived from the UK on a commercial flight and travelled straight to Governors Island to meet students, volunteers and restaurateurs involved in the Billion Oyster Project, a unique initiative to restore oyster beds in New York harbour.
He stood in the bow of the boat with Pete Malinowski, co-founder and executive director of the Billion Oyster Project, as it travelled to the outcrop at the centre of the operation.
Manhattan’s skyline was clearly visible despite the persistent rain which had ended a mini September heatwave in the Big Apple, with the top floors of the highest skyscrapers shrouded in mist.
During his visit William will promote his Earthshot Prize which aims to celebrate and scale up solutions to ‘repair’ the planet, and announce the 2023 finalists.
Later he will sit down for talks with UN secretary general Antonio Guterres as the 78th session of the UN General Assembly begins.
A Kensington Palace spokesman said: ‘The prince is very much looking forward to seeing the secretary general and they are expected to speak about climate change and the environment as well as the innovative solutions that the Earthshot Prize is cultivating around the world.’
The first stop for William will be the hatchery centre for the fledgling oysters, and he will tour a group of tanks where the next generation is being nurtured.
He will also meet a group of high school students who are volunteering and learning about the project to restock the oyster population, with larvae relocated to a nursery made from discarded and cleaned oyster shells from 75 New York seafood restaurants.
The shells are housed in metal cages in the East River and it is hoped the molluscs, which cannot be eaten because of water pollution, will form oyster reefs providing three important benefits – filtration, new habitat and protection against storms.
Earlier today, William praised Ecuador for the ‘crucial’ work the nation is doing in the battle against climate change as he met President Guillermo Lasso Mendoza ahead of unveiling this year’s Earthshot Prize finalists on his solo trip to New York.
The Prince of Wales confidently strode into the bilateral meeting, beaming as he walked past an Andy Warhol print of his late grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.
The heir to the throne was pictured shaking hands with President Lasso before they sat down together at the the British Consul General’s official residence at 50 UN Plaza overlooking the UN building and with panoramic views of the Hudson River.
His engagements in the US coincide with Climate Week in New York and the 78th UN General Assembly where nearly 200 countries are meeting. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is among those in attendance.
Although Prince William will not address the assembly, he met UN chief Antonio Guterres in New York on Monday and discussed ‘efforts required to accelerate the fight against climate change and protect the environment’.
Today, he will also host business leaders, climate activists and policymakers, with those present including UN Special Climate Envoy Michael Bloomberg, former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
President Lasso told William the environment had always been important to his country.
Ecuadorians voted in a recent referendum to ban oil drilling in Yasuni National Park, located within the Amazon rainforest, and one of the most biodiverse places in the world.
The country is also pursuing other measures to promote sustainability from protecting its waters to mobilising green finance.
William, speaking in the shadow of the print of his late grandmother, said: ‘It’s amazing. This is really important it is historic what you are doing.’
The prince also remarked on yesterday’s weather saying it was ‘pouring down’ when he arrived on Monday. With blue cloudless skies above Manhattan, William said: ‘We could have done with this weather.’
He went on to praise Ecuador for the ‘fantastic work’ it has done for environment. Although he admitted it takes a ‘business brain’ to understand the finances.
William, who flew commercial and was travelling without the Princess of Wales, went straight from the airport to Governor’s island, which sits in New York Harbour, yesterday.
With William away on business, Princess Kate continued with her own engagements as she was this morning pictured visiting a charity back home in east London.
The Prince of Wales is in New York to announce the 15 finalists of this year’s Earthshot Prize, which awards companies and projects focusing on climate solutions.
He helped found the awards in 2020 and each year five winners get £1million towards their project.
Upon arrival to the US, William 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.
‘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’.
Before the main event, William yesterday met with UN chief Antonio Guterres. The Prince of Wales and the UN Secretary-General appeared in high spirits as they toured the 93-member world body where world leaders have gathered for their annual summit.
On Governor’s Island, William met schoolchildren who are studying marine biology and spoke with employees of the Billion Oyster Project.
He was due to see the giant pile of oyster shells that are donated by 75 restaurants in New York rather than being sent to landfill sites.
And afterwards – despite the grey skies and rain – he got waist deep in the East River from a small beach and put some oysters into the water.
He then changed into a suit for a trip to the UN ahead of a ‘no nonsense’ climate summit being hosted by Guterres on Wednesday.
After their meeting, a UN spokesperson said the pair also ‘discussed efforts to enhance implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as financing for development’.
Leaders are also meeting at the United Nations on Monday and Tuesday on the Sustainable Development Goals, a 2015 ‘to-do’ list that includes wiping out hunger and extreme poverty, battling climate change and achieving gender equality.
Guterres warned that the goals ‘need a global rescue plan.’
Despite being in America, there appears to be no plans for William to see his estranged brother – just days after Prince Harry’s Invictus Games came to a close in Dusseldorf, Germany.
The Prince left the Princess of Wales at home with the children as he travelled to the US – with Kate also not expected to join him for the Earthshot Awards ceremony in Singapore in November.
William was in Boston last year to announce the winners of the 2022 Earthshot Prize.
The Prince of founded the awards three years ago, saying he wanted to turn ‘current pessimism surrounding environmental issues into optimism by celebrating the people and places driving change’.
Every year between 2021 and 2030, an awards ceremony will honour winners in the prize’s five categories who are creating innovations which tackle environmental issues. Each winner is given £1million to support and scale 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 for the love and support shown by the American people during that time.
‘He is very much looking forward to being back in New York this week and hopefully meeting as many New Yorkers as possible’
On the trip William is scheduled to visit a fire station in Manhattan and meet with first responders and talk about mental health – his trip is just a week after the 22nd anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
A meeting with US President Joe Biden, who is attending, is ‘unlikely’, the Kensington Palace spokesman said – the two men met last year in Boston.
It comes just days after his brother, Prince Harry, told veterans they ‘should not 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 a heartfelt speech last at the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games.
The 39-year-old said during his five-minute closing speech that they ‘don’t need to rely on a uniform’ nor should they ‘feel lost without one’.
Prince Harry himself has not worn a uniform since he and Meghan moved away from the UK in 2020 and he was stripped off his military titles.
At the Queen’s funeral last year, Harry was pictured wearing a suit while his father King Charles and his older brother Prince William were wearing their uniforms.
At the Invictus Games, Harry added in his speech on why veterans don’t need rely on their uniforms: ‘Why? Because everything you need is already within you. Tomorrow you will each walk away with memories that are different and unique to you.
‘But my hope is that every memory made, brings a smile to your face through a sense of belonging and an opportunity for you and your family to look forward with price and purpose. ‘
Harry also said to the competitors how their ‘vulnerability’ had ‘opened the hearts’ of millions of people all over 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 beamed at Team USA when they took their place for the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games.