Prince William and his wife Kate fly out to the United States on Wednesday for their first visit in eight years, as an intense media spotlight on the British royal family and the sons of King Charles shifts across the Atlantic.
The US trip will be the new Prince and Princess of Wales’ first overseas excursion since the death of Queen Elizabeth, which meant William – Charles’s eldest son – became the heir to the throne.
The visit has gained added significance as it comes a few days before William’s Los Angeles-based younger brother Prince Harry and American wife Meghan take the limelight at a prestigious awards ceremony ahead of a Netflix TV documentary and revealing memoir.
For royal commentators and many in the British press, it will be a chance to contrast the popularity and lives of the two brothers, whose falling out, along with Harry and Meghan’s criticism of the monarchy, has become one of the defining stories of the House of Windsor in recent years.
“The royal family are a competitive bunch, they always have been and always will be,” royal biographer Andrew Morton told Reuters.
“Prince William is the future king, Prince Harry no longer has a royal role. But nonetheless, they will be looking at the optics to see who had the biggest crowds, who had the most column inches and if they tell you otherwise, don’t believe them.”
William and Kate will visit Boston, primarily to attend an awards ceremony for the Earthshot environmental prize which the prince set up. It is being viewed by the royals as a trip rather than a more traditional tour.
The last time they visited the United States in November 2014, they were guests of then-President Barack Obama at the White House.
This visit will be lower key: they will visit local environmental, educational and community projects in Boston, although the Earthshot ceremony itself will be a star-studded event with the likes of Grammy-winning singer Billie Eilish and Oscar-winning actor Rami Malek.