Since they were married in 2011, the newly minted Prince and Princess of Wales have visited the U.S. three times, the third visit happening this week. Their first time stateside, to Los Angeles, happened soon after their 2011 wedding; they came back to the U.S. in 2014, visiting New York City. But this time William and Catherine are in Boston, a very deliberate choice to bring the second annual iteration of William’s Earthshot Prize Awards (the inaugural event was in London last year). William, inspired by John F. Kennedy’s “Moonshot”—the president’s ambitious goal to get the U.S. to the moon by the end of the 1960s, which was achieved—created the Earthshot Prize to “discover, celebrate, and scale the best solutions to help repair our planet,” Kensington Palace said in a statement, which continued “the Prince and Princess are looking forward to spending time in Boston and to learning more about the issues that are affecting local people.”
While this is William and Catherine’s first time in Boston, it’s certainly not the royal family’s first time in Beantown. Perhaps most well-known, Her late Majesty visited Boston in 1976 for the 200-year anniversary of American independence, which William referenced on Wednesday night in a speech at Boston’s City Hall.
“On this, our first overseas visit since the death of my grandmother, I would like to thank the people of Massachusetts and particularly of Boston for the many tributes paid to the late Queen,” he said. “She remembered her 1976 bicentennial visit with great fondness. My grandmother was one of life’s optimists—and so am I. That is why last year we launched the Earthshot Prize with the ambition to create a truly global platform to inspire hope and urgent optimism as we look to save the future of our planet.”
He specifically thanked the people of Boston—around 1,000 of whom braved the rain to see him and Catherine at their first stop on their three-day visit—and said, “Catherine and I can’t wait to meet many of you in the days ahead.” He even called out Bostonians' tough spirit, praising “all the hardy Bostonians braving the rain” to come see him and Catherine that evening.
For her part, while visiting Boston 46 years ago, Her late Majesty said “if Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and other patriots could have known that one day a British monarch would stand beneath the balcony of the Old State House, from which the Declaration of Independence was first read to the people of Boston, and be greeted by the Mayor and others in such generous words—well, I think they would have been extremely surprised! But, perhaps, they would also have been pleased. Pleased to know that, eventually, we came together again as free peoples and friends and defended together the very ideals for which the American Revolution was fought.”
Prince Charles later visited the city in September 1986 to celebrate Harvard’s 350th anniversary; Princess Anne then visited in June 1995, and later Prince Edward in September 2000, and in June 2019 Prince Harry and Meghan Markle didn’t go to Boston but met the Boston Red Sox when they were in London—so that counts, right?
But while some Bostonians are excited to have William and Catherine here—and cheered as both took the stage at City Hall—there were some boos and chants of “USA! USA!” at the Boston Celtics basketball game William and Catherine attended courtside (hey, it was just a week ago that patriotic pride ran strong as USA squared off with England in the World Cup). William and Catherine, seemingly undeterred, told the Celtics’ owner that even though they’d been up for 22 hours, they were having too much fun to leave the game early. (The Waleses—back when they were the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge—are clearly fans of the sport: remember their 2014 attendance, alongside Beyonce and Jay-Z, at a Brooklyn Nets game?)
Extra traffic and road closures frustrated many residents. Boston city councilor Jefferson Thomas Scott took to Twitter to address William and Catherine’s arrival Wednesday, writing “Hey, did you know that the royal family is visiting Ward 2 tomorrow? Yeah, me neither until I read it in the press.” He added “I didn’t invite these people and was unaware of this visit until you found out too. The City is not handling the Prince and Princess of Wales’ itinerary, so the times of these transits and closures ending is unknown.”
The visit is still underway, so the overall outcome of it remains unknown, but according to The Times (opens in new tab), the Boston trip is an important one in terms of the royal family’s image stateside: “a visit to the U.S. by the Prince and Princess of Wales, viewed in royal circles as one of the most important overseas trips for years, aims to get the House of Windsor firmly back on the front foot across the pond,” the outlet reported.
Working in their favor to win Bostonians’ hearts? The Celtics did defeat the Miami Heat yesterday, which William said he was thankful for at an engagement today: “We had a good night at the basketball last night,” he said. “If the Celtics hadn’t won last night, we’d never be able to show our faces in Boston again! Quite relieved they won.”
Several Bostonians assembled for the Waleses’ visit Thursday were heard yelling “We love you!”—so the charm offensive for Boston’s heart seems to at least partially be working.
Rachel Burchfield is a writer whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family. In addition to serving as the royal editor at Marie Claire, she has worked with publications like Vogue, Vanity Fair, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and more. She cohosts Podcast Royal, a show that provides candid commentary on the biggest royal family headlines and offers segments on fashion, beauty, health and wellness, and lifestyle.
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