Royal Corner

Earthshot is Prince William’s Legacy

The Earthshot Prize finally awarded their five winners on Sunday night, but the "world's most prestigious environmental prize" also defines the beginning of its founder, Prince William's legacy.

OCTOBER 18th, 2021

© Getty Images


iscussing climate change has become a complex conversation for many reasons. Like most subjects in today's divisive and opinionated society, opinions and thoughts split into two different directions. There are those who see the climate emergency as the world’s most urgent problem facing human kind, and there are those who don’t; instead feeling that those who promote climate action are hypocritical tree huggers who have no idea how the real world works. The debate has become increasingly heated and, as pointed out by Prince William last week in an interview with the BBC, “surrounded by doom and gloom”.

So when watching the prestigious inaugural Earthshot Prize, which aired on Sunday night, it was truly refreshing to see the conversation of climate action embedded with optimistic positivity and, most importantly, solutions. Throughout the sixty-minute ceremony, where Coldplay launched the show with a performance powered by bicycles, some of the world’s most recognisable stars wore sustainable outfits, and Nigerian singer Yemi Alade stole the evening with her electric performance of ‘Rain’, the Earthshot Prize injected a much needed punch of positiveness - and that was before the five winners were even announced.

Prince William speaks to the audience at the end of the Earthshot Prize. - © BBC

At the heart of this new trajectory sits the Duke of Cambridge, who had been planning the Earthshot Prize for over 18 months. With his hard work now paid off with the first ceremony deemed a resounding success, William is taking the “world’s most prestigious environmental award” to the country whose original shot for the moon inspired the Duke’s own - the United States of America. And like so many who watched the awards first ceremony, the next 12 months until the second can’t come quick enough.

But where did the Earthshot Prize’s success stem from? Of course the winners and finalists whose exceptional and creative inventions, activism and overall hard work was truly infectious in both inspiration and hopefulness, yet it was also hard to overlook the enthusiasm displayed by the Duke of Cambridge. It is here where the success of the Earthshot Prize feels most potent, and yet it also demonstrates Prince William’s deeper understanding about the very people he will one day serve as King.

Defining his environmental prize - a labour of love, which according to friends, has been a welcomed distraction from the carnage surrounding parts of his family in the last few months - is the simple mantra: urgency + optimism = action. It is a simple approach, but it is one which has been lacking from the climate conversation, as well as many others plaguing society in recent years.

What Prince William understands is that to bring people along with you, you must first start from a position of positive hope. Instead of placing the blame on the public, enable the public to help discover the solutions. The moment you begin to preach from the altar of hypocrisy and ultimately demand that the ordinary, everyday public change how they live their lives, whilst those preaching continue unchanged, you lose your audience for good. William, unlike many in his position, sees this and more so is actively choosing a different route. In the same interview with the BBC last week, he described the idea behind his approach: “It’s about doing what we love and what we enjoy, but in a sustainable fashion and it is possible. However, it means that all of us have to come together to do this - it has to be a truly global effort.”

This messaging clearly resonated with the public, with almost universal praise for the Prince and the awards. This included audiences commenting on how they felt “inspired” and “informed”, but never once “patronised”.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet with guests outside of Alexandra's Palace in London. - © Getty Images

This type of universal and positive technique will stand Prince William in good stead as he grows into his royal role as a future King. The Earthshot Prize clearly demonstrated that he has his finger well and truly on the public’s pulse. He understands that not everyone will agree on everything, but progress can be made as long as you make room for all, as long as all ideas and opinions are facilitated and respected, and in the end listened to.

The Earthshot Prize was another insight into the growing position Prince William, and the Duchess of Cambridge, are carving in preparation for the “top jobs”. It is becoming undeniably clear how quick the couple are transforming into a future King and Queen. Their presence, appearance and approach are all gilded with the gold standard of sovereignty. There is a renewed confidence, especially with the Duchess of Cambridge, who helped announce one of the winners at Sunday night’s award show. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge aren’t here to preach, condemn or politicise. They are simply here to serve where they can and within the capacity that royalty enables them too. Mix this with their down-to-earth personalities and it’s hard to deny that the Cambridge’s are onto a winner.

Sunday night’s delightful and inspirational award ceremony genuinely felt like a new chapter had opened up for the Duke of Cambridge - one defined by the prestige of legacy that the Prince’s Trust bestowed upon his father the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Edinburgh Award for his grandfather Prince Phillip, and the humanitarian work which came to define the life of his mother Princess Diana. You could sense the longevity of the project and the everlasting hope that humanity can finally begin to reverse the effects of climate change. Thanks to Prince William, the family members who inspired his dedication to the environment, the Earthshot Prize and ultimately the featured finalists around the world, reversing the effects of climate change no longer feels like an ever elusive pipedream. We can do it with optimism, ingenuity and leadership from a future king whose goal at saving the planet within a decade seems within reach more now than ever.

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