He’s waking up in the city that never sleeps — and consumes a lot of oysters.
Prince William, 41, touched down in New York City on Monday for a solo visit — leaving behind his wife, Kate Middleton, 41 — and declared that it was “so good to be back in the United States.”
Then he got his feet wet — literally — during a visit to Governor’s Island.
Arriving there straight from Newark Airport, the Prince of Wales donned waders, a neon orange life vest and a pair of bright yellow gloves to meet with the Billion Oyster Project (BOP), a nonprofit working to help restore oyster reefs to New York Harbor.
The project cures oyster shells for a year, collecting them, in part, from dozens of restaurants like popular NYC spots Crave Fishbar and Grand Banks. They are put through a long process to restore oyster reefs that help protect the city from storm surges, among other benefits.
During his visit, his first stateside trip since 2014, Prince William lifted a few handfuls of oysters from their cages and spoke to shocked students from the New York Harbor School MAST Center’s oyster hatchery, whose meeting with the royal was kept under wraps until Monday morning.
The prince also met with four restaurateurs, including Crave Fishbar owner Brian Owens, who has donated 3 million oyster shells since 2015 — and was taken aback by how interested Prince William seemed.
“I was surprised at how engaging he was and how many questions he had, and I think he had some good questions,” Owens said.
Ben LoGuidice, who works in remote setting management, echoed that the prince was “very interested” in the process.
In remarks, Prince William proclaimed that “no one does optimism and ingenuity like the American people,” and he further embraced the American spirit by referencing former President John F. Kennedy.
“I know our generation can take the bold action we need to make changes towards a healthy and sustainable world,” the prince said. “The challenge may feel huge, but as John F. Kennedy taught us, we rise to the challenge not because it is easy, but because it is hard. And vital.”
On Tuesday, the prince — whose visit takes place during the UN General Assembly week — is set to meet with a group of first responders to speak about mental health. He was also planning to attend the Earthshot Prize Annual Innovation Summit.
However, one topic of conversation will not be broached while he’s stateside, according to the Sunday Times: his rocky relationship with his brother, Prince Harry, 39,
Even though he’ll only be a few hours from California-living Harry and his 42-year-old wife, Meghan Markle, William does not plan to field questions about their apparent estrangement during any media interviews, the outlet reported.