Prince William's publicity drive in the United States ahead of the 2022 Earthshot Prize awards ceremony could potentially be driven by an element of "competitiveness" with brother Prince Harry, according to a royal biographer.
Omid Scobie, co-author of the Harry and Meghan biography Finding Freedom, has written in a new column for Yahoo! News that the space once occupied by William and Kate Middleton in the media coverage of the royal family in the U.S. has now been taken over by Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
The comments come as William announced last week that his eco-initiative, the Earthshot Prize, would hold its second awards ceremony in early December with Boston acting as host city.
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The Earthshot Prize has close associations with the United States. The concept for the project has been attributed to President John F. Kennedy's historic "Moonshot" speech in 1962 and the JFK Library Foundation will act as an event partner in hosting this year's ceremony.
Though Kensington Palace has not announced whether William or Kate will be traveling to the U.S. for the event, William, as president of the prize, could be expected to take part.
If the couple do make the journey to Boston it will mark their first public visit to the U.S. since 2014 where they toured New York and Washington.
In their long absence from the States, Scobie poses that the main royal focus in the country has turned to Harry and Meghan who, since stepping down as working royals in 2020, have lived in California and undertaken visits to a number of states.
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The relationship between William and Harry is reported to be distant, with Harry himself commenting that the brothers were on "different paths."
"Though the U.S. has long been fascinated with British royalty, interest in 'The Firm' was massively renewed when one of the country's own married into the House of Windsor in 2018," Scobie said.
"The story of Meghan's journey as a royal (and all things related to it) still accounts for the majority of royal coverage in the U.S.
"That space was once occupied by the Cambridges," he continued. "In the couple's earlier days, one couldn't move for TV specials and magazine covers about William, Kate and their growing family. But as their life fell into a stable groove, the excitement and curiosity for the pair waned."
Discussing the recent news of William's outreach to the U.S. through Earthshot, including a 2021 interview with People magazine announcing the 2022 ceremony would be held in America, Scobie wondered if "a little competitiveness with his brother might be in the mix."
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"Harry's popularity in Britain may be suffering, but his rise in the U.S. has seen the Archewell Foundation receive huge attention from an impressive list of donors..."
In the U.K., Harry, according to polling data from YouGov, is currently the tenth most popular living royal—a dramatic decrease from his position in 2017 where before his marriage, he overtook Queen Elizabeth II to take the top spot in favorability polling with an 81 percent positive response.
Despite Scobie's observation that Meghan and Harry may dominate royal news coverage in the U.S., similar polling by YouGov America in February 2022 found that William and Kate are viewed more favorably in the country than the Sussexes.
This may not guarantee an overwhelmingly warm reception in the U.S. should the Cambridges travel to Boston however, as it would also mark their first visit since the broadcast of Harry and Meghan's interview with Oprah Winfrey, which saw many Americans side with the Sussexes over accusations of their poor treatment by the royal firm.
Scobie also highlights the appointment of a new head of communications for William and Kate as a potential hint that they are becoming more U.S. focused.
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Lee Thompson is reported to have recently joined the ranks of the royals' Kensington Palace staff, having spent a number of years with U.S. based media conglomerate NBC.
"Though their focus will always be in the U.K.," Scobie commented of William and Kate. "It's clear the Cambridges have realized a slice of American pie would be nice, too. And who can blame them?"
Citing the royal family's declining popularity in parts of the Commonwealth and the U.K. competing for its place and relevance on the world's stage, the author surmised that "now seems like the perfect time for a much-needed PR boost."
Newsweek approached Kensington Palace for comment.
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