SOMERVILLE, Mass. — As the royal couple seek to develop new ways to tackle climate change, the Prince and Princess of Wales got a first-hand look at some groundbreaking innovations during their visit to a green tech startup hatchery in suburban Boston on Thursday.
Queen Making their first overseas visit since Elizabeth’s death, William and Kate were greeted by hundreds of cheering spectators when they entered Greentown Labs in Somerville.
They were greeted by CEO Emily Reichert, Mayor Katjana Ballantyne, and Joe Curtatone, the former mayor of the city just north of Boston and current chairman of the Northeast Clean Energy Council. William wore a gray suit with a burgundy sweater. Kate wore a burgundy suit by Roland Mouret, a blouse by Burberry, and earrings by Daniella Draper.
Greentown, the largest climate technology startup incubator in North America, has supported more than 500 companies that have created more than 9,000 jobs since its founding in 2011.
The three-day visit began Wednesday with a reception at Boston City Hall and a trip to a Boston Celtics basketball game. It concludes on Friday with the awarding of the prince’s signature Earthshot Prize, a global competition aimed at finding new ways to protect the planet and combat climate change.
The visit also came amid turmoil at home, an 83-year-old honorary member of the royal family, who asked the Black general manager of a women’s shelter in east London where the old woman “really came from”. She was English she. Some said the incident was an example of the wider racism issues at Buckingham Palace.
In Greentown on Thursday, the royal couple chatted with Shara Ticku, CEO of c16 Biosciences, a company that is developing decarbonized alternatives for the consumer products supply chain, starting with a sustainable alternative to palm oil. “Oils today come from animals or plants,” Ticku said. “We made this from mushrooms.”
At Open Ocean Robotics, CEO and co-founder Julie Angus talked about solar-powered autonomous boats that provide real-time information about the oceans to the prince and princess. Angus’ desk has a computer and monitor that displays data from a real boat in the harbor in Victoria, British Columbia, where the company is headquartered.
“Five nautical miles? That’s pretty fast,” said the prince, looking at the screen. “It’s amazing it didn’t capsize,” added Angus, noting that the boats were able to correct themselves.
William and Kate also met with Earthshot CEO Hannah Jones, who has made them four Earthshot winners or finalists in the past, including Vaitea Cowan, co-founder of AEM Electrolysers, which is turning renewable electricity into green hydrogen.
They also chatted with Katherine Dafforn, co-founder of Living Seawalls, an Australian company that designs eco-friendly ocean infrastructure. “Time passes for all of us,” William said.
When they left Greentown Labs, Kate received flowers from 8-year-old Henry Dynov-Teixeira, who was wearing a King’s Guard costume.
Also on Thursday’s agenda is a visit to Roca Inc., an organization that aims to improve the lives of youth and young adults by addressing issues such as poverty, incarceration and trauma from urban violence; and a visit to the Boston beach, threatened by rising sea levels.
The royal couple’s first trip to the US since 2014 is part of the British royal family’s efforts to change their international image. Following Elizabeth’s death, William’s father, King George III.
This includes a focus on the Earthshot Prize, which offers £1 million ($1.2 million) prize money to each of the winners in five separate categories: nature conservation, clean air, ocean regeneration, waste elimination and climate change. The winners and all 15 finalists also receive assistance in expanding their projects to meet global demand.
The winners will be announced Friday at Boston’s MGM Music Hall as part of a flamboyant show directed by Billie Eilish, Annie Lennox, Ellie Goulding and Chloe x Halle. The show will also feature videos voiced by naturalist David Attenborough and actor Cate Blanchett.