Prince William goes dragon boating in Singapore ahead of Earthshot Prize ceremony

Britain’s Prince William took to the waters in Singapore for a morning of dragon boating yesterday, ahead of activities for the annual Earthshot Prize awards aimed at promoting solutions for the planet’s environmental threats.

Donning a life vest and a black cap, the Prince of Wales sat in a long narrow boat as he paddled with athletes from the British Dragons club on the Kallang river. Working in pairs, William and the other 19 paddlers rowed vigorously to the steady beat of a drummer standing in the bow.

His boat triumphed in a brief race with another boat captained by British High Commissioner Kara Owen. It was not the first time for William, an avid sportsman who tried his hand at dragon boating with his wife, Kate, the Princess of Wales, during a tour of Canada in 2011.

Dragon boat racing, originating from China, can be traced back nearly 2,000 years before it became a modern international sport in 1976.

“I was lucky enough to be sitting next to him, and he is just a really nice guy,” said Laura Greenwood, a British expat who is a member of the British Dragons. “He has dragon boated before, so he felt kind of confident in what he was doing … It was quite fast pace, so he kept up really well.”

William, 41, arrived Sunday ahead of the annual Earthshot Prize awards ceremony, the first to be held in Asia. William and his Royal Foundation charity launched the global environment competition in 2020 to promote innovative solutions and technologies to combat global warming and repair the planet.

William is to address a star-studded award ceremony Tuesday, where winners will be named in five caterogies: nature protection, clean air, ocean revival, waste elimination, and climate change.

Each winner will get 1 million pounds ($1.2 million) to help them scale up their projects for wider global reach. All 15 finalists, representing six continents and selected from 1,300 nominees this year, will receive help in expanding their projects.

Actors Hannah Waddingham and Sterling K. Brown will co-host the event, which will also be attended by wildlife conservationist Robert Irwin and celebrities including Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett and actors Lana Condor and Nomzamo Mbatha.

The prize’s name refers to the late President John F. Kennedy’s 1962 “moonshot” speech, which challenged Americans to reach the moon by the end of that decade. That inspired the prince and his partners to set a similar goal for finding solutions to environmental problems by 2030.

The inaugural ceremony was held in London in 2021 and the second in Boston last year.

William’s office at Kensington Palace has said Singapore was chosen to host this year’s ceremony because of its role as a “hub for innovation” in Southeast Asia.

During his four-day visit, his first to the city-state since 2012, William will also call on Singapore President Tharman Shanmugaratnam and meet with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

William also plans to attend the United for Wildlife summit, featuring representatives of law enforcement agencies, conservation groups and corporations working to combat trade in illegal wildlife products, estimated at $20 billion annually. MDT/AP

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