When Queen Elizabeth II last spoke about climate change, she urged world leaders to act for future generations, acknowledging that “none of us will live forever”.
The Prince of Wales on Wednesday acknowledged that protecting the environment had been a cause close to his grandmother’s heart, adding that she would have been “delighted” that the campaign to create lasting change was continuing in her absence.
In a video message broadcast to the Earthshot Innovation Summit in New York, Prince William said he had taken “great comfort” in the ongoing enthusiasm of the supporters of his environmental prize.
He had planned to make a solo trip to the event to drum up US support for the Earthshot Prize, two months ahead of a glitzy award ceremony in Boston.
The summit, taking place during NYC Climate Week and the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly, convened inaugural Earthshot finalists, global business leaders, philanthropists and activists.
The Prince was due to meet Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor who sits on the board of the Earthshot Prize, to begin the countdown to the second annual awards in early December.
Instead, he said in his video message, recorded on the Windsor estate on Tuesday that it was “the saddest of circumstances” which meant he had been unable to travel.
“During this time of grief, I take great comfort in your continued enthusiasm, optimism and commitment to The Earthshot Prize and what we are trying to achieve,” he said.
“Protecting the environment was a cause close to my Grandmother’s heart, and I know she would have been delighted to hear about this event and the support you are all giving our Earthshot Finalists – the next generation of environmental pioneers.”
He added: “Just as President John F. Kennedy so famously said, as he challenged the United States of America to unite behind the goal of putting man on the moon, “we choose to do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard”.
“I know that the world is an uncertain place right now. That many families and communities across the globe are facing unimaginable challenges – from conflict to energy crises and food shortages.
“While addressing these in the short-term, we must also remain resolutely focused on tackling the greatest challenges that threaten our tomorrow.”
His words echoed those of his grandmother, who, in a video address to world leaders at Cop26 last November, said it was time to act now on climate change for the sake of “our children, and our children’s children”.
The late Queen, then 95, spoke warmly of the role that her “dear late husband,” the Duke of Edinburgh, played in the campaign against climate change and said she “could not be more proud” that his work had been continued by her two heirs, Prince Charles and Prince William.
She used the video address to make her most significant intervention on the environment, urging delegates to “achieve true statesmanship” by taking action.
The second Earthshot Prize ceremony will be held in Boston in honour of Kennedy’s moonshot challenge and raises the prospect that the Prince and Princess of Wales may undertake a short tour in the US.
Prince William set up the environmental initiative, which will award £50 million in prizes over ten years, to find solutions to repair and protect the planet.