Prince William took the stage in New York City — but not without a raving introduction by Michael Bloomberg.
The Prince of Wales, 41, addressed the room at the Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit at the Plaza Hotel on Tuesday. The summit — which announced the 15 finalists for this year’s awards, with the five winners (announced in Singapore next month!) each receiving $1.2 million to promote their organizations’ sustainability projects — was the centerpiece of Prince William’s two-day visit to the United States.
Bloomberg kicked off the event by bringing up a recent Gallup poll that ranked Prince William as Americans’ most favored public figure.
“The prince has clearly won over Americans of all stripes. These days, as we know, that is no small feat,” the former New York City mayor said. “In fact, the poll also showed the prince is viewed positively by 60% of democrats and 60% of republicans.”
He continued, “America has not seen that kind of bipartisan consensus since 1776. But this time we’re all drinking to the King’s health.”
During the event, Prince William took the stage and revealed that he started his day in New York with a run in Central Park.
“I decided to join the hordes of New Yorkers doing their morning routine,” he said. “It was wonderful waking up in New York on a sunny morning rather than the rain we had yesterday. It was beautiful getting some fresh air this morning.”
The royal also confirmed that he will go to Singapore for the awards ceremony in November.
The royal was joined at the summit by Bill Gates and former Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern as well as previous Earthshot Prize winners.
Inspired by President Kennedy’s iconic Moonshot mission to land a man on the moon, Prince William launched the Earthshot Prize in October 2020 to incentivize environmental change and help repair the planet over the next decade. With optimistic urgency, the Earthshot vision believes that human ingenuity can make the planet a cleaner, safer place by 2030.
Prince William’s trip to New York started on Monday with a visit to Governors Island to visit the Billion Oyster Project, learning about their work to revitalize New York’s waterways. By restoring oyster reefs in New York Harbor, they will provide a habitat for many marine species, filter water and help shield New York City shorelines from storm damage.
He also had an audience with the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, at the UN’s Headquarters on Monday afternoon.
Can’t get enough of PEOPLE‘s Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!
Prince William was scheduled to attend the Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit in New York City last year, but he was forced to cancel the trip stateside after the death of his grandmother Queen Elizabeth.
Addressing the event by video message, the Prince of Wales said, “Although it is the saddest of circumstances that means I cannot join you in person today, I am pleased to join you in video form as you gather in New York for the Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit. During this time of grief, I take great comfort in your continued enthusiasm, optimism and commitment to the Earthshot Prize and what we are trying to achieve.”
“Protecting the environment was a cause close to my grandmother’s heart, and I know she would have been delighted to hear about this event and the support you’re all giving our Earthshot finalists, the next generation of environmental pioneers,” he added.