The Prince of Wales checked out Central Park for a workout with his security detail ahead of an important day showcasing his Earthshot Prize
The Prince of Wales, 41, kicked off his day in Manhattan on Tuesday with a secret morning run in Central Park. The royal set off around 7 a.m. local time, awake for the early workout likely thanks in part to the jet lag as the U.K. is five hours ahead.
William revealed his low-key outing at the Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit held at the Plaza Hotel during a discussion about his environmental project with previous winner Vaitea Cowan. She asked, "Is it true? Did you go running in Central Park this morning?"
"I did, Vaitea, yes. 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."
"It's been wonderful to be back. I think 2014 was the last time I was here," Prince William added referring to his royal tour with Kate Middleton that took them to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, a Brooklyn Nets game (where they met JAY-Z and Beyoncé!), a dinner at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and more.
The run started off a busy day for the royal. In addition to his "fireside chat" at the summit, Prince William's Earthshot Prize revealed the 15 finalists of this year's contest. The shortlist will include the five winners at this year's awards ceremony in Singapore on Nov. 7.
Prince William officially confirmed on Tuesday that he will be traveling to Singapore for the event.
Talking about why they chose Singapore to host the third prize ceremony, William said, "We want to get around the world. We want to see solutions in different places; we want to work with those existing ones while opening new chapters, new areas. I think Singapore is a gateway to Southeast Area; it's a new region. We know the innovation sectors there are huge and technology is booming there. Singapore is a city of nature, so they get it. So it's really exciting what's going to happen in Singapore. We take a lot of time and we try to work out where is the next place to go."
The previous awards were held in London (2021) and Boston (2022).
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Prince William began his two-day visit to the Big Apple on Monday by highlighting an innovative project that is helping to restore oyster reefs in the city’s harbor, involving the local young people in the process.
At the nonprofit Billion Oyster Project, the prince was introduced to volunteers, students and restauranteurs involved in the project. He saw an oyster hatchery and a pile of oyster shells that are used to help restore the reefs.
Speaking with some people cleaning the oyster pile, William said: “When it’s dry with nice weather, it must be quite therapeutic.”
The royal even sported waders and a Billion Oysters Project baseball cap as he made his way into the East River's water with the Manhattan skyline as the backdrop.
Prince William interacted with children from Harbor Middle School, who had no idea who their surprise guest at the event would be until shortly before. One girl said she guessed it might be "the mayor" because their teacher told them it was someone "very important."
"It was a lot more comfortable than I anticipated," Lynn Shon, a science, technology, engineering, art and math teacher at Harbor Middle School tells PEOPLE. "I think some of my students were really nervous about it, and some of them were more comfortable. By the time they were all handling the oysters and showing the prince all the critters in the tank, they felt more comfortable."
Later on Tuesday, he will head to a firefighters’ station to speak to first responders. Prince William was an air ambulance pilot for several years — and an air force Search and Rescue helicopter pilot before that — and is supportive of emergency services and their mental well-being.
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