The Prince and Princess of Wales joined 20,000 basketball fanatics to cheer on the Boston Celtics and promote the Earthshot Prize awards on their first day in the city.
William and Kate were brought into the TD Garden stadium to sit courtside and watch the action alongside the Celtics owners Wyc Grousbeck and Emilia Faszalari alongside Governor-elect Maura Healey and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu.
Kate and William stood for the national anthem The Star Spangled Banner which was belted out by a semi-finalist of season 10 of the reality TV series The Voice.
But later the royal couple were subject to small pockets of boos around the arena when they were introduced by a stadium announcer and shown on the big screen.
The Boston Celtics’ name was inspired by the Original Celtics, a well-known basketball team that had been created by Irish immigrants in New York earlier in the 20th century, before folding in 1930.
Other fans in the crowd could be heard loudly cheering ‘USA, USA’ when the Prince and Princess appeared on the screens in the center above the court.
The royal couple was seen cheering the high-scoring game and clapping points as the packed crowd ramped up the atmosphere for the seventeen-time World Champions took on the Miami Heat in downtown Boston.
William and Kate wound up with a basketball in their hands as the team warmed up before the game
The Prince of Wales looked to be having a fun-filled evening as he cheered on the Boston Celtics, with his wife flashing him a smile at one point during the game
The couple had the best seats in the house for the game, which sees the Boston Celtics going up against the Miami Heat
The royal couple snap a picture as they sit court-side at the Celtics game in Boston on Wednesday
William and Kate appear on the jumbotron at TD Garden and wave to the crowd
William and Kate talk as they walk down the side of the court at the Celtics game Wednesday
Before the game started the royals met members of the ‘Celtics family’, including representatives of the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation, which provides grassroots programming and strategic funding to local organizations serving at-risk or at-need populations.
Around the arena, digital advertising boards were lit up green to promote the awards while spectators were treated to a promotional Earthshot video ahead of the game.
After the second quarter with the game tied 47 all, William and Kate watched as the Celtics honored their long- standing tradition of recognizing a ‘Hero Among Us,’ heralding individuals working to positively impact the community.
Ollie Perrault, a 15-year-old climate activist from Easthampton, Massachusetts, got to meet the royal pair after being cheered by the local crowd for her work as a leading member of the Youth Climate Leadership Program since she was 11.
She is now the founder and director of Youth Climate Action Now, committed to fighting for environmental justice, advocating for an intersectional system change, and working to get more young people involved in direct climate action.
Royal aides suggested the royal couple would depart after the third quarter of the game but they decided to stay until the end, shaking hands with fans as they left.
William and Kate applaud while watching the Celtics game on Wednesday night
William and Kate watch the jumbotron during the Boston Celtics game at the TD Garden on Wednesday
Prince William in particular looked to be having a whale of a time, clapping and cheering on the team as his wife flashed him a wide smile
Prince William and Kate Middleton were seen grinning and cheering as they sat courtside at a Boston Celtics game on Wednesday night, just one hour after their Earthshot Prize launch was dragged into the royal race row
The royal couple take photos with fans during the Boston Celtics game on Wednesday night
No doubt William and Kate were hoping the evening’s event – the second in their official list of engagements during their whirlwind three-day trip to Boston – would go off without a hitch, given the awkward moment that took place during the Earthshot launch just hours before the game.
As the Prince and Princess Wales watched on from the wings at the event, Reverend Hammond, who founded a youth organization focused on ‘teaching the history of the Civil Rights Movement’, said: ‘On this day, I invite us all to consider the legacy of colonialism and racism.’
She continued: ‘The ways it has impacted people across the world and its connection, its deep connection to the degradation of land and our planet that we are all seeking to reverse. The stories lost, the species made extinct, but also the persistence of people in the face of oppression and the fundamental dignity of all of our relations.’
Although no mention was made about Lady Susan Hussey – former lady-in-waiting to the Queen and William’s own godmother – who was accused of making racist comments to black domestic abuse campaigner Ngozi Fulani at a Buckingham Palace event on Tuesday night, few could fail to connect the controversy with Reverend White-Hammond’s remarks.
Prince William and Kate Middleton meet 13-year-old Ollie Perrault after she received her award at the Celtics game Wednesday
William and Kate smiling court-side as Celtics team members horse around in front of them
William and Kate watch as the Miami Heat take on the Boston Celtics in Boston on Wednesday
Having started her speech by ‘acknowledging the ancestral lands we stand on today’, the Reverend went on to express gratitude to William and Kate for choosing to host this year’s Earthshot Prize in Boston.
‘Now you all know, we are a city of many firsts. We are honored to be the first American city and the first city outside of the United Kingdom to host the Earthshot Prize,’ she continued.
Her comments about colonialism came just months after another of William and Kate’s international engagements – a March tour to the Caribbean to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – was shrouded in controversy over accusations that elements of it smacked of ‘colonialism.’
Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and Secretary John Kerry were both scheduled to attend the Earthshot event, only to no-show at the last minute.
Kerry, the presidential envoy for climate, informed the Prince and Princess earlier today that he would ‘sadly no longer be able to attend,’ but did not clarify why.
Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy who is currently serving as the US Ambassador to Australia, said she experienced ‘disrupted travel plans’ due to the harsh weather lashing the east coast.
That weather, however, appeared to have led to very few cancellations at airports in Boston and in New York, according to FlightAware.
William and Kate at the Earthshot Prize opening ceremony on Wednesday evening
William and Kate visiting Boston City Hall on Wednesday evening during the Earthshot Prize ceremony
Before she began working for the City of Boston, Reverend White-Hammond was an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, having previously founded a youth organization that focused on ‘teaching the history of the Civil Rights Movement’
Caroline Kennedy and John Kerry both failed to show up for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s Earthshot event in Boston on Wednesday evening
This week Prince William will also visit the John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
He and his wife will learn about the work that local organisations are doing to mitigate the risk of rising sea levels in Boston and they will also tour Greentown Labs, in the nearby town of Somerville, to get an insight into the development of innovative green technologies.
There are also plans for the royal couple to meet President Joe Biden on Friday, who will be in Boston on a separate trip.