Prince William received a rock star welcome into Singapore as he launched his solo four-day visit in honour of this year’s Earthshot Week.
Hundreds of royal fans eagerly descended on Changi Airport on Sunday to greet the popular Prince of Wales, who happily stopped for selfies before being greeted by local ministers and ceremonially switching on the HSBC Rain Vortex, the world’s largest indoor waterfall.
During his speech at the United for Wildlife Summit on Monday, he addressed the glaring absence of his wife, Kate Middleton, explaining that she was “very sorry” she couldn’t be there with them.
“I’m delighted to be back in Singapore,” William told the audience.
“It has been 11 years since Catherine and I enjoyed a memorable visit here on behalf of my late grandmother in her Diamond Jubilee Year,” the royal said.
“And I should mention that Catherine is very sorry she can’t be here … she is helping George through his first set of major exams.”
Fans were left disappointed last month by the confirmation that William would be heading to Singapore without Kate. It marked the first time she would miss out on the Earthshot ceremony, which is in its third year.
While speaking at the summit, William also spoke seriously about the Earthshot initiative’s goals.
“The focus of my visit this week is how we collectively overcome our planet’s greatest environmental challenges,” he said.
“Like all initiatives created through the Royal Foundation, United for Wildlife and The Earthshot Prize are underpinned by finding innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing issues.”
William also specifically hit out at the “criminals that trade rhino horn, tiger paws and pangolin scales”, claiming they are “part of some highly organised gangs”.
“Compared to other global problems, stopping the illegal wildlife trade should be relatively straightforward,” he said.
The Earthshot Prize was founded by Prince William and the Royal Foundation and aims to “discover, spotlight and help grow innovative solutions that are working to repair and regenerate our planet.”
Five winners are awarded at the annual ceremony for their contributions to environmentalism.
William is set to speak at the star-studded ceremony on Tuesday night, which is being hosted by English Ted Lasso actress Hannah Waddingham, and will also feature appearances by wildlife warrior Robert Irwin and Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett.
Australian company Sea Forest – which has developed a seaweed-based livestock feed alternative to reduce methane emissions – is also among the 15 finalists for an Earthshot Prize award.