The British royal couple will travel to Boston and stay there for three days starting Wednesday, and the highlight of the trip will be William’s presentation of the Earthshot Prize for sustainability on Friday at the MGM Music Hall at Fenway.
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The couple last visited the U.S. in 2014 for a three-day trip to New York City and Washington, D.C., and this latest visit marks a new chapter.
It’s their first international visit with the new titles they inherited after Prince Charles became King Charles III, following Queen Elizabeth II’s death on Sept. 8.
It also marks the first time they are traveling with the express purpose of promoting their sustainability agenda in their — arguably — more powerful position as the Waleses.
William founded the Earthshot Prize in 2019, its name inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s Moonshot speech in 1962. The award is given to five winners each year, individuals or organizations that promise to deliver impactful and sustainable solutions for the planet between 2021 and 2030.
The prince has cited his grandfather Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh; father King Charles, and the broadcaster David Attenborough as key influences for starting the initiative.
The Earthshot Prize partnered with the John F. Kennedy Foundation to bring this year’s awards ceremony to Boston.
On Wednesday, the Prince and Princess of Wales will attend a celebratory ceremony in the presence of Caroline Kennedy and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, the first woman and the first person of color to be elected to that city’s post. City Hall will be lit green in their honor.
On Thursday, they will visit climate technology start-up incubator Greentown Labs in nearby Somerville, Massachusetts. Kate and William will also visit Roca in Chelsea, Massachusetts, a nonprofit organization that focuses on teen pregnancy prevention and targets high-risk young men out of schools, gang members and high-risk young mothers.
The couple’s big day will be Friday when the award ceremony will take place. There will be performances by Billie Eilish, Annie Lennox, Ellie Goulding and Chloe x Halle, with attendees including Rami Malek, Catherine O’Hara and Shailene Woodley.
During the day, Kate will meet researchers at The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard, while William will tour the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum along with Caroline Kennedy.
During their three days in Boston the couple will also be attracting interest due to their strained relationship with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who are based in the U.S., and who will be picking up a prize of their own a few days after the Waleses leave the country.
Tensions between the couples are running high with Harry’s much-anticipated memoir, “Spare,” set to be released on Jan. 10.
“The eyes of the world are always on Catherine and William when they travel abroad, but the media interest will be elevated this time, not just because it’s their first foreign visit but because they’re in the country which the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have made their home,” said Bethan Holt, author of the republished bestseller “The Queen: 70 Years of Majestic Style” and “The Duchess of Cambridge: A Decade of Modern Royal Style.”
“The couple rarely create big, splashy moments, but I think there’s a lot of hope that they will make a big deal of this visit, in contrast to, say, their visit to New York in 2014 where their appearances were fairly low-key,” she added.
After Kate and William leave the U.S., Meghan and Harry will travel to New York to pick up the Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope award, which honors “exemplary leaders across government, business, advocacy, and entertainment who have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to social change and worked to protect and advance equity, justice, and human rights.”
Even though the couple’s trip to Boston is not an official tour, comparisons have already been made to when the late Princess Diana visited the U.S. in 1989.
“Now that Catherine has taken on her late mother-in-law’s title, the comparisons are even more inevitable than before. There are some brilliant ‘Diana in America’ style references which the princess could draw on, like Diana’s velvet off-shoulder gown worn to dance with John Travolta at the White House; the Christian Dior dress which she wore to the Met Gala or the slinky purple Versace gown worn in Chicago,” said Holt, adding that it would be even better, given the sustainability theme, for the princess to re-wear one of Diana’s gowns.
It’s likely that Kate will wear looks by the American labels Tory Burch or Gabriela Hearst, which “would be particularly apt given her eco-luxe credentials,” she added.
The mini-Boston trip can also be viewed as a repositioning strategy, a way to reassure international fans that the British royal family is still brimming with glamour and prestige despite the death of Queen Elizabeth.
“This visit is a big opportunity to emphasize the glamorous future of the monarchy to Americans and reassure them that just because Queen Elizabeth is gone, their interest shouldn’t wane,” said Holt, who predicts that there will be plenty of diplomatic dressing to pay tribute to America and outfits that drive home the sustainability message with Earthshot.
It’s even an opening for Prince William to put forward his best sartorial foot. At the Earthshot Prize 2021 ceremony that took place in London, he re-wore a green velvet blazer from 2019 by British high street retailer Reiss, layered with a black turtleneck.
“It would be wonderful to see him embrace and recognize the power of fashion in the same way as his father, especially if his outfits for the Earthshot events came with a sustainable message. However, I can’t say I’m optimistic that this will be the moment he chooses, although by sticking to his old favorites, he is something of an under-the-radar muse for sustainable style,” added Holt.
Bigger tours and moments are still ahead of Kate and William as they prepare for King Charles III’s coronation in June followed by a potential tour of Australia with their children.
The Waleses have just started their real work.
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