How Prince William is taking on the role of environmental campaigner

He is following in his father's footsteps in more ways than one.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 19: Prince William, Founder and President of The Earthshot Prize speaks onstage during The Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit In Partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies at The Plaza Hotel on September 19, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Bloomberg Philanthropies)

King Charles’ passion and advocacy for the environment is well-known but now, it is Prince William’s turn to step up on the global stage to champion similar causes. 

While on the surface the new monarchy may look very much like business as usual, there has been change and more will surely unfold in the next 12 months. Both King Charles and his heir, Prince William, are out to do much more than reassure. 

They have personal agendas to fix some of the planet’s most pressing ills and aim to use their unique positions of power to do so. While the late Queen added her voice to hundreds of charity and community initiatives, Charles and William have more activist roles in their sights.

You only have to look at Prince William’s trip to New York in late September. Ostensibly to announce the finalists in his annual Earthshot Prize, the visit also highlighted the new Prince of Wales’ global standing and his diplomatic skills. The environment prize launched by Prince William in 2020 aims to find – and scale – innovative solutions to the most pressing environmental challenges. 

“No one does optimism and ingenuity like American people,” cooed William on his arrival.

In a recent poll, the Prince was found to be the most popular public figure in the US ahead of President Biden, Donald Trump and Ukraine’s President Zelensky. 

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 19: William, Prince of Wales greets fans as he visits a FDNY Firehouse on September 19, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

And here he was, hanging out on the world stage with an impressive group of movers and shakers including UN Secretary-General António Guterres, President of the Republic of Ecuador Guillermo Lasso, US Ambassador to Australia Caroline Kennedy, climate envoy Bill Gates, former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, former New Zealand Prime Minister Dame Jacinda Ardern and others.

William was just as at home with regular New Yorkers. They lined the streets to greet him, and he attracted another army of fans when he turned up unannounced for a morning jog in Central Park. “The Prince has clearly won over Americans of all stripes. These days, as we know, that is no small feat,” joked Mike Bloomberg, referring to Will’s equal popularity with democrats and republicans.

“America has not seen that kind of bipartisan consensus since 1776. But this time we’re all drinking to the King’s health!”

How the Earthshot prize can ignite change

William was there to deliver a message. “This is the decade of change,” he said, announcing this year’s 15 finalists which include Australia’s Sea Forest. The revolutionary seaweed-based livestock feed reduces planet-warming methane emissions from cattle and supports sustainable farming and healthy marine ecosystems.

It’s exactly the sort of initiative Prince William’s environment awards is keen to support.

“I know our generation can take the bold action we need to make changes towards a healthy and sustainable world … You guys provide the products and inspiration. My role is to get you as big as fast and as scalable as possible,” said William, admitting he is “impatient” to make a difference.

Five winners will be announced in Singapore in November in a glittering ceremony, each receiving £1 million to grow their ideas. Good luck Sea Forest!

Related stories