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The Prince of Wales has declared he wants to “supercharge” the impact of his Earthshot Prize finalists to inspire a “despairing world” that there is a way forward.

William described himself as a “stubborn optimist” in an article published a few hours before the awards ceremony for his environmental prize, being staged in the US city of Boston, was due to begin.

Global star Billie Eilish will lead a stellar entertainment line-up during a ceremony – dubbed the prince’s “world cup” moment – that aims to celebrate and scale up environmental solutions to repair the planet.

Former England and Manchester United footballer David Beckham will present one of the five awards with each category winner receiving £1 million to develop their project.

Writing in the Huffington Post, the future King said about the finalists: “The Earthshot Prize wants to find the best of them. We want to celebrate and support them, so that we not only supercharge their positive impact but also demonstrate to a despairing world that there is an optimistic way forward.

“Dire predictions about our natural world aren’t the only side to this story and they don’t have to be our future.”

Ahead of the event being staged on Friday evening at the MGM Music Hall at Fenway, behind the scenes photographs of William and Kate attending a Thursday rehearsal for the ceremony were released.

But the couple’s three-day trip to Boston, which ends on Friday, has been overshadowed by the race row that saw William’s godmother Lady Susan Hussey resign as a royal aide after she repeatedly questioned a prominent black British-born domestic abuse charity boss about where she “really came from”.

A trailer promoting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Netflix docuseries was released on Thursday, with the timing interpreted by some royal commentators as a snub to William and Kate.

William wrote about the thinking behind his award and how he was inspired by President John F Kennedy’s successful “Moonshot” ambition to put a man on the moon.

He said: “We face a challenge as seemingly insurmountable as putting a person on the moon: reversing the damage that has been done to our planet, and putting ourselves on a path toward a more sustainable future.

“Repairing our planet is not going to be easy, but the case for taking action to protect our natural world is undeniable.”

Ahead of the awards William visited the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, with Caroline Kennedy, JFK’s daughter and her children Jack and Tatiana Schlossberg.

During the visit, the prince was shown exhibits from the pivotal years of the Kennedy Administration in the 1960s, ahead of the moon landing in 1969, including a facsimile of JFK’s famous “We choose to go to the moon” speech, which he delivered at Rice University, Houston, in September 1962 informing the public about his mission to land a man on the moon before 1970.

“Incredible,” William said, as he looked at the speech. “What was he trying to do here?” he asked, pointing out JFK’s hand-written annotations on some sections of the speech.

Jack Schlossberg replied: “To a lot of people, he was trying to justify the investment that was going to be needed.”

After the visit, the Kennedys joined William for a private lunch and discussion with representatives from the Founding Partner organisations of the Earthshot Prize, before a meeting with President Joe Biden later in the afternoon.

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