The Prince and Princess of Wales will fly to the US today, aiming to shine a light on the climate crisis against a media backdrop obsessed with sibling rivalry and a turf war with the Sussexes.
On their first US trip in eight years, William and Catherine are visiting Boston to promote the prince’s environmental Earthshot prize.
Days later, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will also head to the east coast for a prestigious New York award ceremony, where they are being feted for speaking out about the alleged racism they experienced as part of the royal family.
No plans for the brothers to meet during the three-day trip by the Waleses have been made public.
William’s star-studded Earthshot ceremony and Harry and Meghan’s human rights Ripple of Hope award gala will also focus attention on America’s own “royal” family – the Kennedys.
Boston was chosen for the second Earthshot annual prize ceremony, to be held on Friday, because of its close connections to President John F Kennedy, whose 1962 “moonshot” speech inspired William to set a similar challenge to find solutions to the world’s environmental problems by 2030. The prince and the princess will visit the John F Kennedy presidential library and museum with the late president’s daughter, Caroline.
On the following Tuesday, 6 December, Harry and Meghan will attend the Robert F Kennedy Ripple of Hope award to be honoured for their commitment to social change and human rights work.
In widely reported comments Kerry Kennedy, one of Robert Kennedy’s children and president of the foundation, told the Spanish news site El Confidencial: “They went to the oldest institution in UK history and told them what they were doing wrong, that they couldn’t have structural racism within the institution, that they could not maintain a misunderstanding about mental health.”
William has previously denied any claims of racism within the royal family after the Sussexes’ controversial Oprah Winfrey interview.
With Harry’s candid memoir, Spare, due to be published in January, and the duke and the duchess’s Netflix documentary eagerly anticipated – as well as the house of Windsor’s woes depicted in the latest season of The Crown – a lot of noise surrounds William and Catherine’s visit.
A source has insisted the couple’s focus is on the Earthshot prize and they “won’t be distracted by other things”. They will visit local environmental, education and community projects in Boston before attending Friday’s Earthshot ceremony with stars including the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Billie Eilish and Oscar-winning actor Rami Malek.
However, relentless media coverage on both sides of the Atlantic has pitched this as a popularity contest between the two couples, and one over which memories of Diana, Princess of Wales, will undoubtedly loom.
Having inherited first, the engagement ring, and now the title of the late princess, Catherine can expect to be compared at every turn, said Joe Little of Majesty magazine.
The Boston visit, Little said, was an opportunity for the royal family to redress the balance, given recent negative publicity. The Winfrey interview “did no good at all to the reputation of the British royal family, rightly or wrongly, depending on your stance”, he said. He added: “Diana meant a huge amount to so many Americans, so comparisons are inevitable in everything that Catherine says or does.”