The City of Boston welcomed British royalty Wednesday, as the highly anticipated visit from the Prince and Princess of Wales got underway.
Prince William and Princess Catherine — the royal couple often referred to simply as William and Kate — lit Boston City Hall green after addressing a crowd at the building's plaza during a heavy rainstorm.
"Thank you to all the hearty Bostonians braving the rain this evening," William said. "Catherine and I are absolutely delighted to be with you today for our first engagement in the great city of Boston."
Lighting the iconic building green was a nod to the royals' Earthshot Prize Awards, being given out at a star-studded award ceremony on Friday. They have a string of appearances scheduled until then.
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As he began painting the town green, William said Boston was "the obvious choice" for hosting the second-ever Earthshot Prize Awards.
It's the home of President John F. Kennedy, whose "moonshot" speech motivated the U.S. to send man to the moon and inspired the prince to sponsor the Earthshot Prize, which aims to find solutions to climate change.
Boston is also "a global leader in science, innovation and boundless ambition," thanks to its universities, researchers and startups, William said — earning a cheer from the crowd. He noted that its leaders are pushing for green policies as well.
"Like President Kennedy, Catherine and I firmly believe that we all have it in ourselves to achieve great things, and that human beings have the ability to lead, innovate and problem solve," he said. "We cannot wait to celebrate the Earthshot Prize finalists later on this week, and we are both looking forward to spending the next few days learning about the innovative ways the people of Massachusetts are tackling climate change."
The royals landed at Boston Logan International Airport Wednesday afternoon on a British Airways flight and were greeted by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.
"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 to Boston," he said. "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."
President Joe Biden will be in Boston on Friday as well, for a Senate fundraiser. The White House said Wednesday that he'd like to meet with William and Kate, but that details were still being worked out.
Boston Welcomes Royalty
The newly revamped City Hall Plaza will be showcased Wednesday, when the prince, Mayor Wu and Ambassador Caroline Kennedy speak to the crowds from the new Speaker’s Corner on the plaza.
A tent has been set up due to the rain that's being expected in the afternoon.
With the inclement weather, city officials said it’s hard to say how many people will show up to try to get a glimpse of Prince William and Princess Catherine during their first engagement in Boston. However, they guess it could be in the thousands.
At around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, they will be kicking off the Earthshot celebrations, counting down to the Earthshot Prize Awards Friday, and lighting up City Hall and other landmarks across the city in green.
“I think this is an opportunity to showcase Boston to the rest of the world, showing that we’re moving the needle in terms of the environment," Commissioner of Property Management for the City of Boston Eamon Shelton said.
Thursday, the royals will be visiting Greentown Labs and Roca Inc.
On Friday, Will and Kate will be spending time at The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard and the JFK Library – before wrapping up their visit to Boston with a star-studded Earthshot Prize Awards Ceremony at the MGM Music Hall.
City officials and the Consul General to New England said the excitement for the royal visit is palpable.
“I think the excitement levels are pretty high, actually, judging by the reaction on social media and some of the folks that I talked to around Boston," Consul General to New England Peter Abbott said. "Everyone is thrilled and honored as well that the Prince and Princess of Wales would be visiting Boston for the second annual Earthshot Awards, so the excitement levels are high."
PHOTOS: William, Kate Make a Royal Visit to Boston
What Are the Earthshot Awards?
The Earthshot prize was founded by Prince William and The Royal Foundation in 2020. It was inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 challenge to America to land a man on the moon by that decade’s end, and aims to “discover and scale the best solutions to help repair our planet within the next decade,” according to a release.
Earthshot offers 1 million pounds ($1.2 million) in prize money to the winners of five separate categories: nature protection, clean air, ocean revival, waste elimination and climate change. The winners and all 15 finalists also receive help in expanding their projects to meet global demand.
The winners will be announced Friday at Boston’s MGM Music Hall as part of a glitzy show headlined by numerous celebrities. The ceremony will be broadcast Sunday on the BBC in the U.K., PBS in the U.S. and Multichoice across Africa.
Hollywood Royalty in Boston
The Prince and Princess won't be the only royalty in The Hub come Friday.
The awards show will be co-hosted by actor Daniel Dae Kim and British TV presenter Clara Amfo. Oscar-winning actor Rami Malek will be presenting one of the awards, along with Princess Catherine and other stars.
Performers include popstar Billie Eilish, her brother Finneas, Annie Lennox, Chloe x Halle and Ellie Goulding.
Sir David Attenborough, the naturalist and documentary filmmaker behind shows like "Planet Earth," will appear in the ceremony, and Prince William will give a speech closing out the show.
Prince and Princess to Visit Roca Inc.
The royal couple will also be making their way to Chelsea during their visit, where they will see up close the way one organization uses brain science to help at-risk youth.
Roca Inc. focuses on teens and young adults at the center of violence. They collaborate with police, judges, child protective services and other stakeholders to reduce trauma, violence and incarceration. At the same time, the group works to find youth sustainable employment.
Roca's founder said that despite months of preparation for the royal visit, she's overwhelmed with excitement about the attention this will bring their mission.
"It’s just a huge gift that will elevate the work," Roca CEO and Founder Molly Baldwin said. "There are young people who struggle to connect with the resources we have in this country and we are so honored."
The Prince and Princess will meet with leaders of Roca and spend time with women in the young mothers program on Thursday.
As for Wednesday's event at City Hall Plaza, which is open to the public, Boston city officials have advised that people try to take public transportation. While streets won't be specifically shut down, some may be temporarily blocked off and a lot of the area will have no parking beginning at 7 a.m.