Rebecca English and Charlie Lankston, Daily Mail, November 30, 2022
A black reverend began the Prince and Princess of Wales’ Earthshot launch event today by giving a lecture about the ‘legacy of colonialism and racism’ – just hours after Buckingham Palace became embroiled in a furious race row when William’s godmother was accused of making racist remarks at an event hosted by Queen Consort Camilla.
Just minutes before William and Kate took to the podium at the Boston launch event of the Prince’s Earthshot Prize, Reverend Mariama White-Hammond – the city’s Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space – gave a strong speech in which she told the crowd to ‘consider the legacy of colonialism and racism’, particularly when it comes to their impact on climate change.
As the Prince and Princess Wales watched on from the wings, Reverend Hammond, who founded a youth organization focused on ‘teaching the history of the Civil Rights Movement’, said: ‘On this day, I invite us all to consider the legacy of colonialism and racism.’
She continued: ‘The ways it has impacted people across the world and its connection, its deep connection to the degradation of land and our planet that we are all seeking to reverse. The stories lost, the species made extinct, but also the persistence of people in the face of oppression and the fundamental dignity of all of our relations.’
Although no mention was made about Lady Susan Hussey – former lady-in-waiting to the Queen and William’s own godmother – who was accused of making racist comments to black domestic abuse campaigner Ngozi Fulani at a Buckingham Palace event on Tuesday night, few could fail to connect the controversy with Reverend White-Hammond’s remarks.
‘Now you all know, we are a city of many firsts. We are honored to be the first American city and the first city outside of the United Kingdom to host the Earthshot Prize,’ she continued.
Her comments about colonialism come months after another of William and Kate’s international engagements – a March tour to the Caribbean to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – was shrouded in controversy over accusations that elements of it smacked of ‘colonialism’.
Critical royal observers led by by Meghan’s cheerleader-in-chief Omid Scobie and BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond slammed a series of ‘tone deaf’ PR monments – leading to more social media criticism despite the couple’s warm welcome on the ground.
However, even as the Reverend’s remarks about racism and colonialism lingered in the air, William stepped out onto the stage with a smile on his face – following appearances by Maura Healey, the Governor-elect of Massachusetts and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu – to express his ‘delight’ at hosting his first engagement in Boston.
‘Catherine and I are absolutely delighted to be with you today, for our first engagement in the great city of Boston, as we start the count down to the Earthshot Prize Awards this Friday,’ he said.
‘Thank you to Mayor Wu and Reverend White-Hammond for all your support for the Earthshot Prize.’
He went on to reference assassinated President John F. Kennedy’s Moonshot speech – the inspiration for his Earthshot Prize – describing it as ‘challenge to American innovation and ingenuity’.
‘It was that 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,’ he continued.
‘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 his legacy.’
Assassinated President JFK’s daughter Caroline, who is currently serving as the US Ambassador to Australia, was supposed to attend the event, however she was unable to attend due to ‘disrupted travel plans’.
Similarly, John Kerry, presidential envoy for climate, was due to be in attendance, but informed the Prince and Princess earlier today that he would ‘sadly no longer be able to attend’.
Following his speech, William invited his wife to join him at the podium so that they could officially launch this year’s Earthshot Prize alongside Mayor Wu and Governor-elect Healey with the push of a button that lit up 16 different Boston landmarks green.
Addressing the crowd gathered outside, the Prince thanked ‘all the hardy Bostonians braving the rain this evening’, before the pair walked off the stage while waving to a crowd of around 1,000 people.
Huge applause had also broken out as the Prince and Princess walked through the glass doors of city hall ahead of William’s address.
The crowds gathered despite the heavy showers that had grown gradually worse through the afternoon.
Shortly before William spoke, the Boston Children’s Chorus performed a song from the musical WILD: A Musical Becoming, which tackles the issue of climate change.
The song includes the chorus: ‘We want you to panic. We want you to act. You stole our future, and we want it back.’
The event came just hours after William’s Kensington Palace spokesperson condemned the ‘unacceptable’ comments made to black domestic abuse campaigner Ngozi Fulani by Lady Hussey – who resigned from the royal household today, just hours before the Prince and Princess of Wales touched down in the US, after she was accused of racism at a Buckingham Palace reception set up by King Charles’ wife Camilla.
The couple flew in on a commercial flight from London, landing in pouring rain – even as a storm was brewing within the Monarchy back at home.
A flicker of stress crossed William’s face as he made his way down the stairs inside the airport terminal at Boston Logan International Airport, flashing a brief grimace at the cameras, before breaking into a wide smile.
However, while the pair may privately be struggling with the race row, insiders say they are ‘determined’ not to be side-tracked from their mission to launch the Prince’s Earthshot Prize awards in the US, where they are aiming to meet as many people from the local area as possible.
A spokesman described the trip as a ‘huge moment’ for them.
It is the first time that the couple has visited the US since 2014. Since then, Harry and Meghan have set up home in the States amid a blaze of anger and recriminations against the royal family.
The couple were greeted by Governor Baker of Massachusetts, with William, 40, referring to his adored grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, in a statement made upon their arrival, describing her as one of life’s great optimists.
He said: ‘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.
‘On this, our first overseas visit since the death of my grandmother, I would like to thank the people of Massachusetts and particularly of Boston for their many tributes paid to the late Queen. She remembered her 1976 bicentennial visit with great fondness.
‘My grandmother was one of life’s optimists. And so am I. That is why last year we launched the Earthshot Prize with the ambition to create a truly global platform to inspire hope and urgent optimism as we look to save the future of our planet.
‘To the people of Boston, thank you. I’m so grateful to you for allowing us to host the second year of the Earthshot prize in your great city. Catherine and I can’t wait to meet many of you in the days ahead.’
The Princess of Wales put on an incredibly elegant display in a £1,490 ($2,190) midnight blue blazer by British fashion brand Alexander McQueen – the same label that designed her wedding dress.
She paired the chic jacket with a pair of matching £590 ($890) trousers and a knitted turtleneck, adding a pair of diamond and sapphire earrings that once belonged to the late Princess Diana.
In line with the eco-credentials of the Earthshot Prize, which is designed to highlight and support some of the most pioneering projects to protect the environment today, the couple flew commercially and will travel in a hybrid Range Rover throughout their time in the city.
Before they host their glitzy Earthshot Prize ceremony on Friday night, the Prince and Princess of Wales will meet with US President Joe Biden, his press secretary revealed today, although she did not share specifics of when or where the meeting will take place.