NEW YORK – Prince William landed in New York on Monday and immediately did what most New Yorkers would never dream of.
The Prince of Wales walked into the East River, wading boots and all, with the Manhattan skyline in the background.
While most townspeople actively try to avoid contact with the water, William came in as part of an event organized with the water Billion Oyster Project. The nonprofit is working to restore one billion oysters to New York Harbor by 2035.
According to Agata Poniatowski, public relations manager for the Billion Oyster Project, the image of the king going into the water and being there is very important. Poniatowski waded into the water alongside the prince, who she said was “really, really excited” about the activity.
“Having the prince join us in the water here in New York changes the view of the water, where people think it’s so dirty, it’s so disgusting,” she told reporters, including HuffPost, after the outing. “But really, you know, the water is suitable for swimming on certain days of the week. We want to work on this change of perspective, and the prince has really helped us with that.”
The king’s trip with the organization first took him by boat to Governor’s Island on Monday, shortly after his commercial flight landed from Britain
After meeting with restaurateurs, volunteers, staff and students involved in the project on the island, he took another boat to Brooklyn Bridge Park, where he jumped in the water to look at the oysters.
He then met with 12-year-old students from Harbor Middle School and measured the oysters with them.
The prince is in town on behalf of his environmental initiative “The Earthshot Prize”. The 15 finalists for this year’s awards will be announced Tuesday at the Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit, co-hosted by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Bloomberg Philanthropies.
During the Prince of Wales’s stay in New York – which also coincides with New York Climate Week – the heir to the throne met with the UN Secretary-General on Monday ahead of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly.
Upon landing at Newark Airport, the King said it was “so good to be back in the United States.”
“No one is as optimistic and resourceful as the American people, so it is only right that we introduce this year’s Earthshot finalists in New York City,” he said.
William is also expected to meet with first responders in Manhattan on Tuesday. The royal, who was an emergency first responder during his time as a helicopter pilot, is expected to speak to firefighters about their work and mental health.
“He is aware that he is making this visit just days after 9/11, where many of the people he will meet tomorrow remembered those who died on 9/11 itself,” a spokesman said of Kensington Palace on Monday morning.
The Prince of Wales was originally scheduled to visit New York last September, but his trip was canceled due to the death of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth.
The palace spokesman said the prince was looking forward to meeting New Yorkers this week and appreciated their understanding when his trip was canceled last year.
“As he previously noted, the Prince was incredibly grateful for the love and support shown to him by the American people during this time,” the spokesman said. “And he is grateful and will continue to be grateful. And he’s really looking forward to being back in New York this week and hopefully meeting as many New Yorkers as possible.”
The Prince of Wales last visited New York in 2014 with his wife Kate Middleton.
Both the Prince and Princess of Wales also traveled to the US last year when they visited Boston in November. HuffPost reported on her royal tour, which included attending the 2022 Earthshot Awards ceremony.
Ahead of the awards ceremony in Boston, William also wrote an exclusive essay for HuffPost in which he said he is a “stubborn optimist” when it comes to the future of the Earth.
“Dark predictions about our natural world are not the only side of this story and they do not have to be our future,” he wrote at the time. “In this pivotal decade, I invite you all to be optimistic, support the game changers and believe in the power of human ingenuity.”