Are William and Kate about to steal Harry and Meghan's US crown?
Are William and Kate about to steal Harry and Meghan’s US crown? America’s love affair with its adopted royals seems to be on the wane – but a new favourite may arrive as the Duke of Cambridge prepares for two State-side visits to promote Earthshot mission
- Duke of Cambridge will go to New York later this month for first time since 2014
- Earthshot is an annual awards for innovative solutions tackling climate change
- US public opinion soured towards Meghan and Harry after The Cut interview
- New York Post has called Meghan a ‘spoiled princess’ and a ‘toddler in a tiara’
When the Duke of Cambridge goes to New York later this month, it will be a new high watermark in all his years of public service.
At the United Nations General Assembly, Prince William will have the world’s attention as he meets the city’s former mayor and billionaire philanthropist Mike Bloomberg to promote Earthshot, his annual awards for innovative solutions tackling climate change. The pair will discuss the thorny subject of how to save the planet.
William is expected to be received warmly by VIPs both at the UN and by New Yorkers in general as he meets community groups.
For the visit – his first to the city since 2014 – will come at a moment when, in the eyes of America at large, the popularity of his younger brother and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex, appears to be on the wane.
Last week, US public opinion soured after publication of an interview in The Cut magazine with Meghan, in which she appeared to take aim – again – at the Royal Family. She said the early days after her son Archie was born was ‘a cruel chapter’, before hinting that she may be keen to give a more detailed explanation because she has ‘never had to sign anything that restricts me from talking’.
Prince William’s visit to New York later this month comes at a time when the popularity of his younger brother and wife, Harry and Meghan (pictured in the city in 2021), appears to be on the wane
In the interview, as part of an apparent publicity blitz for her new Spotify podcast series, Meghan gave an anecdote in which she suggested that she had been told by a South African at The Lion King’s London premiere that a huge fanfare in the country had greeted her wedding to Harry.
The article described a cast member at the Leicester Square red-carpet event telling her: ‘I just need you to know, when you married into this family, we rejoiced in the streets the same we did when Mandela was freed from prison.’
But the only South African cast member, Dr John Kani, denied it was he who made the controversial remarks. Lebohang Morake, the South African composer for the film, said he had spoken to the couple for less than a minute at the premiere and had no recollection of saying that.
It was at this point that the US media hit back.
The New York Post called Meghan a ‘spoiled princess’ and a ‘toddler in a tiara’, while The Washington Post said: ‘The only way for the Sussexes to build a truly new life, and have a wider impact on the causes they care about, is to stop making themselves the centre of the story.’
Meanwhile, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are winning hearts and minds in the US. According to a recent poll, Kate is now more than twice as popular with the American public as Meghan.
Meanwhile, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (pictured attending a carol service at Westminster Abbey in December 2021) are winning hearts and minds in the US. According to a recent poll, Kate is now more than twice as popular with the American public as Meghan
This week, William and Kate will take their three children to their new school, Lambrook in Berkshire, a short drive from Windsor – a wholesome family image that is certain to melt American hearts.
The question now is whether Prince William could yet steal Harry’s ‘crown’ as America’s favourite prince. There are definite signs that Harry’s downbeat routine – which often includes criticising the Royal Family from his new home in California – is wearing thin with his fellow countrymen.
In July, the Duke of Sussex was himself at the UN, where he gave a speech to delegates on Nelson Mandela International Day.
In a sparsely populated auditorium, the prince struck a sombre tone. He railed against the ‘global assault on democracy and freedom’, and said that climate change was wreaking ‘havoc’. ‘This has been a painful year, in a painful decade,’ he said.
Prince William will have the world’s attention as he meets the city’s former mayor and billionaire philanthropist Mike Bloomberg (pictured in 2020) to promote Earthshot
‘How many of us feel battered, helpless, in the face of a seemingly endless stream of disasters and devastation?’ And he spoke of ‘finding hope where we have the courage to seek it’.
Yet his decision to use private jets has caused controversy among environmental activists. William, however, is determined to remain upbeat about the environmental challenge that lies ahead. Perhaps rightly, he now sees that America is the perfect place to launch an upbeat, optimistic battle to save the planet. And as a future king, he has the sort of access to the influential elite that a lesser royal, certainly one in self-imposed exile, can only dream of.
As one source close to the duke put it: ‘We looked at the current situation and put it into an equation, which was ‘urgency + pessimism = despondency’.
‘The challenges seem too remote, too hard to overcome, and this fatalistic attitude means that nothing is done.
‘So we wanted to change that to ‘urgency + optimism = action’.
‘We need to create the space for governments and institutions to create action. Individual action is great, but this isn’t all about individual sacrifice because that’s not what is going to move the dial on what we need to achieve.’
‘The whole subject is much less controversial than it was even a decade ago,’ a source said.
As well as Bloomberg, William has linked up with software magnate and philanthropist Bill Gates and the Kennedy family.
William is determined to remain upbeat about the environmental challenge that lies ahead. Pictured here speaking during a meeting with Earthshot prize winners in 2021
Gates has thrown his weight behind ‘Team William’ by committing to help some of the Earthshot prize-winners. Takachar, a waste-recycling project in India, has just been awarded a Bill Gates Breakthrough Energy Fellowship.
The Kennedy family gave their blessing to Earthshot, which was inspired by JFK’s ‘Moonshot’ speech in 1962, where the president encouraged millions of people to unite with the same goal of reaching the moon before the end of the decade – a feat achieved in 1969.
Caroline Kennedy, John F. Kennedy’s daughter, has partnered the JFK Library Foundation with Earthshot, saying that it was a ‘great tribute’ to her father, and adding: ‘My family and the JFK Library Foundation look forward to partnering with Prince William and the Earthshot Prize on this exciting initiative.’
The Kennedy family gave their blessing to Earthshot, which was inspired by JFK’s ‘Moonshot’ speech in 1962. Pictured is the prince attending the first ever Earthshot Prize awards ceremony at Alexandra Palace on October 17, 2021
The aim of the Earthshot Prize is to foster a lifelong association with the duke’s scheme, which continues to promote and advise winners and finalists while linking them with benevolent corporate donors who can recreate their kitchen-table innovations on a bigger scale.
To do this, William has hired a team of around 30 staff for Earthshot. Leading them is Hannah Jones, a British woman who has spent much of the past two decades working in corporate America.
Before she accepted the job as the CEO of Earthshot this year, she worked for Nike, spending 16 years as its chief sustainability officer.
It’s clear to see why William has been so enamoured with her approach, which combines ‘have-a-nice-day’ American cheerfulness and down-to-earth British common sense.
‘We have a decade to make all this happen,’ says Jones. ‘The duke is absolutely clear about that and he is tireless. He is always brilliantly challenging us.
‘From the very beginning, the duke has been saying that our mission is in helping the winners to bring the projects to [a bigger] scale.’
Sussexes back for whirlwind tour
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex reportedly landed back in Britain yesterday as they began a whirlwind tour of charity events across Europe.
Meghan is due to speak at the One Young World Summit in Manchester tomorrow. The event brings together young leaders from more than 190 countries.
The pair will then fly to Dusseldorf in Germany, where they will attend the ‘One year to go’ countdown for the Invictus Games 2023. There, Harry will meet those involved with the organisation of the Paralympic-style tournament he started for wounded and injured veterans and service personnel.
The Sussexes will return to Britain for the WellChild Awards ceremony in London on Thursday, where Harry will deliver a speech.
It is unclear whether Meghan and Harry will visit his 96-year-old grandmother at Balmoral but, given the strained relations with his brother William, he is not expected to visit the Cambridges. And even if there was time to visit his father, Prince Charles is likely to be busy in Scotland supporting the Queen as she welcomes in her 15th Prime Minister.
Despite mobility issues, the Queen still has a busy schedule and continues to receive a daily red box of official papers which demand her attention.
Other members of the family appear to be giving the Duke and Duchess of Sussex a wide berth and they are surely slipping down the Christmas list with every excoriating ‘truth bomb’ explosion from their mansion in Montecito, California.
Harry recently interrupted an interview Meghan was giving and told the journalist: ‘Most people that I know, and many of my family – they aren’t able to work and live together.’
The writer added: ‘He enunciates ‘family’ with a vocal eye-roll.’
In December, William will be back on the east coast of the States, when he announces the winners of the second Earthshot Prize.
The Duke – or ‘Dook’, as he is known State-side – will be there to present awards and praise the huge amount of work that goes into trying to save the planet. Rather than stir up division by blaming governments and corporations, William hopes to galvanise a great wave of grassroots optimism to create innovation and change – and urge institutions to sign up.
One of those who has personal experience of William’s ambition is Vaitea Cowan, the co-founder of Enapter, which aims to make green hydrogen an affordable alternative to fossil fuels. Enapter was one of the five winners of the inaugural Earthshot Prize last year.
She says: ‘With the Duke’s Earthshot, it’s not ‘Good job, good luck, bye’. He has a clear intention to keep up to date with our progress.
‘[Enapter] has always had big dreams and big ambition, but now we are this company that is scaling up.’
For aides, Earthshot is part of William’s overarching goal which will see him focus on international issues including the environment and wildlife, and on a domestic level: homelessness and mental health. Earthshot is the biggest global project of its kind and will consume a lot of his time.
It began over a cup of tea and a 90-minute chat with Sir David Attenborough at Kensington Palace, during which Sir David said he was bombarded with ideas of how to clean the oceans, improve air quality, protect the planet. Perhaps there were solutions the world needed to know but Sir David had no way of finding out.
Before launching his project, Wiiliam gave his team six months to see if someone in the world was already doing the same thing.
A source said: ‘The response came back: No one is doing it and everyone agreed that he was in a unique position to give the prize an international appeal.’
Initial reluctance on William’s part was transformed after going to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, with Sir David and hearing from world leaders that there was a need for such a project and that they would support it.
So, after dismissing several suggestions that it should be known as The Prince William Prize – the duke’s response was ‘no, no, no’ – the Earthshot Prize was born.
His thoughtfulness looks set to stand him in good stead. And, perhaps, that is where the brothers are different. Harry’s ambition appears to be to enact immediate change – vastly different to William’s slowly-but-surely approach, which is more likely to be bring lasting results.
Even in the US, where Harry is raising his family, William’s attitude appears to have won him more fans than his virtue-signalling sibling.
It is two years since Prince Harry left his role as a working member of the Royal Family to set up home in California where he has found financial freedom. But the quiet life many felt they wanted has been remarkably noisy.
Back in Britain, the tide may already have turned in some quarters. Members of the public who gathered for the Platinum Jubilee thanksgiving service in June claim to have heard boos when he arrived on the steps at St Paul’s Cathedral.
Harry may well be overtaken in his uphill battle to gain credibility in the US. William, meanwhile, is quietly taking new ground.
It remains to be seen whether or not William can halt the planet’s devastation in just ten years. Whether he will be reconciled with his brother again in the same timeframe, however, looks unlikely.
One source, who has known both brothers well, still has hope: ‘Maybe they will be talking again at some point down the line, but it’s not going to happen while shots are still being fired from Montecito.’
He might have better luck with his quest to save the planet than he does with building bridges with his younger brother.
‘It’s not an easy fix,’ said a source, referring to the Earthshot project. ‘But William is prepared to put the work in to make real, lasting change. That, ultimately, is why America will take him to their heart.’
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