- Brenda Gonzalez
Boston’s star-studded event in the midst of racism in the palace
Boston locals gathered at City Hall Plaza on November 30 to watch Prince William and Princess Catherine "Kate" Middleton of Wales make their first public US appearance in eight years.
This public appearance was the first stop on their three-day trip to Boston for the EarthShot Prize Awards.
Just hours earlier, William’s godmother, Sussan Hussey, resigned after making racist comments to a Black woman at a reception with representatives from domestic violence charities and politicians.
Hussey asked Fulani where she was “really came from,” after Fulani told her multiple times she was British, from East London. “No, what part of Africa are you from?” Hussey insisted.
“Violence isn’t always physical, it can be verbal. And that felt like violence to me,” said Fulani in an interview with BBC.
Ngozi Fulani is the chief executive of Sistah Space, a non-profit specialist charity that provides support for women of African and Caribbean heritage affected by domestic and sexual abuse around the United Kingdom.
“How many times do we stay in situations when we’re clearly uncomfortable so that we don’t make other people uncomfortable,” Fulanisaid.
The Prince and Princess of Wales were quick to condemn Hussey’s behavior. “Racism has no place in our society. These comments were unacceptable and it's right that the individual has stepped aside with immediate effect,” said a Spokesperson for the royals.
In Prince William’s 2-minute and 20-second speech he heavily thanked Mayor Michelle Wu and the city of Boston for their “. He did not address the racial comments.
The Prince chose Boston as the second host of the EarthShot Prize to pay homage to Moonshot: the 1962 speech given by John F. Kennedy to inspire Americans to support NASA’s mission to the moon.
“It was a challenge to the nation. America had the potential to accomplish something never done before,” said Prince William.
Prince William wants to do “the same for climate change as President Kennedy did for the space race.”
Kennedy’s message is what inspired Prince William to find the EarthShot Prize, an award incentivizing solutions to regenerate the Earth by 2030.
Five winners, chosen out of 15 finalists, will be selected on the December 2 award ceremony and will receive $1 million each to further support their innovations.
Finalists vary from a company that invented packaging solutions made from seaweed, a woman in Kenya who invented stoves fueled by processed biomass, and a group of all-women indigenous rangers.
“[The] vibrant start-up scene makes [Boston] a global leader in science, innovation, and boundless ambition,” said Prince William.
Attendees cheered enthusiastically when the royal couple's names were mentioned by Governor-elect Maura Healey, Mayor Michelle Wu, and Reverend Mariama White-Hammond, the Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space.
Olivia, a 23-year-old Boston resident who declined to give her last name, thought that the EarthShot prize was a good way to “encourage work to save our planet.”
“I don’t know too much about it. I’m honestly just here to see the prince in person,” she said.
Seeing English royalty for the first time was a motivating factor for most in attendance.
“Someone said, ‘The Prince is here,’” said a Boston University alum who declined to give their name. “So I'm here.”
After learning more about the EarthShot event through the speakers, attendees were surprised by the initiative.
“It’s always great,” said Colin, a Boston resident. “Everyone belongs in science.”
Past recipients have gone on to make significant contributions to fighting climate change.
The city of Milan, one of last year’s winners, was the first major city to enforce a city-wide food waste policy embracing public agencies, food banks, charities, and more. Today the city has three Food Waste Hubs, each recovering about 130 tons, equivalent to 260,000 meals per year.
Another 2021 winner, Enapter, has developed machines called AEM Electrolysers that turn renewable electricity into an emission-free gas or “green hydrogen.” This year, Enapter launched a newer model that is compact and relatively low cost.
There was a sense of pride that surrounded the awards, especially with Boston’s recent environmental plans.
Erica Moszkowski, a Harvard graduate, overlooked the community impact in her neighborhood.
“The Greentown Labs in Somerville, I passed them a million times,” said Moszkowski. “I didn’t realize it was the biggest incubator for green startups in America.”
The royal couple is excited to see what will come of this year’s recipients and masterfully redirected attention from a public relations nightmare to accepting praise. But is it all smoke and mirrors?
Cameras flashed at the sight of William and Catherine walking into the city hall plaza. Attendees cheered, waved, and snapped their photos.
Today is not the day that the issue of racism in the royal family will be addressed.
Meghan Markle, wife to Prince Harry, made history as the first black royal family member.
Prince Harry issued a statement in 2016 due to harassment from the public.
A royal family member even had “conversations about how dark his skin might be,” according to Markle.
This eventably drove the couple from the royal family.
In January 2020, Meghan and Harry announced they were giving up their royal titles because of concerns for their child and racist remarks by the media and family members.
The British Overseas Territories are made up of 14 colonies, and many of them are largely Black residents.
For example, the black population in the British virgin islands is 76%, Bermuda 54%, and Anguilla 85%,
Britain provides the territories with military support due to their small population and, in exchange, supports Britain's international presence. Each territory has a governor who acts on behalf of the British government. Legislatively, the British government holds the greatest power.
These colonies are united through their allegiance to the crown, although they exist as self-governing. Exchange for citizenship and funds.
“The monarchy is always going to be controversial here in the USA,” said Moszkowski.
While the EarthShot event is progressive, the royal family is still clearly behind the times. The royal family is being celebrated for trying to lead the way in the progressive space of environmental work while clearly not being progressive.
“It’s institutional racism,” said Fulani.