The Prince and Princess of Wales are due to end their three-day trip to Boston on a high note, having landed in the middle of a palace racism row and then been blindsided by a trailer for the Sussexes’ documentary.
A meeting with the US president, Joe Biden, and a star-studded award ceremony for Prince William’s environmental Earthshot prize, were scheduled to round off what could be described as a bumpy few days.
The Earthshot ceremony on Friday, where Billie Eilish will lead a lineup including Annie Lennox, Ellie Goulding and the Beyoncé proteges Chloe x Halle performing at the MGM Music Hall in Boston, will bring to a close the Waleses’ first visit to the US in eight years.
Headlines and TV bulletins, though, have inevitably been about the royal racism row that engulfed William’s godmother, the former lady-in-waiting Susan Hussey, which again resulted in the monarchy being accused of being institutionally racist, and about that Sussex trailer.
William and Kate were in the air, en route to Boston, as Lady Hussey resigned her honorary role following what Buckingham Palace described as “unacceptable and deeply regrettable” remarks when asking the black charity founder Ngozi Fulani about where she “really came from” at a palace reception.
Then on their second day in the US came the online release of the one-minute teaser for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s forthcoming Netflix docu-series, complete with photographs of Meghan apparently in tears and a thunderous-looking Kate.
For the Waleses’ part, a Kensington Palace spokesperson reiterated comments made ahead of the visit that the couple would not be “distracted” by other matters this week, and their focus was on meeting communities and local people across Boston.
But reports from those on the ground with the couple indicated this may have been something of a challenge. The Times suggested the Sussexes had “deliberately torpedoed” the visit, saying the mood within the Waleses camp was one of “resignation, even amusement, rather than anger”. The Mail proclaimed it a “declaration of war” by the Sussexes. Sussex sources, meanwhile, have reportedly put the provocative timing squarely at the door of Netflix.
While in Boston, where crowds braved the cold and rain to greet them, the prince and princess have visited budding environmental tech entrepreneurs at Greentown Labs, and a very chilly Boston waterfront area threatened by rising sea levels. They also visited Roca, a non-profit organisation focusing on urban youth violence, and sat courtside at an NBA game between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. The princess was also visiting the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.
At the Earthshot awards, now in their second year, 15 finalists are vying for £1m awarded to each of the five category winners. They include a cleaner type of stove in Kenya and a bubble barrier in the Netherlands that prevents plastic entering oceans. Finalists from the UK, for the first time, are Notpla, which makes seaweed and plant-based packaging, and Low Carbon Materials, which uses plastic waste to make carbon-zero concrete blocks.
Harry and Meghan are not expected to attend the environmental awards on Friday. They will, however, be flying to the east coast next week to attend the Ripple of Hope human rights awards in New York on Tuesday, where they are being feted for speaking out on the alleged racism they experienced as part of the royal family.