Generation Earthshot: William and Kate search for superheroes to protect the planet

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The Duchess of Cambridge alongside children from The Heathlands School during the visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens (AP)
The Duchess of Cambridge alongside children from The Heathlands School during the visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens (AP)

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge used superhero toys to encourage children to come up with ideas to save the planet at an event on Wednesday.

Prince William was given Ant Man - who has the ability to shrink to the size of an ant - while Kate had the Invisible Woman for the brainstorming Generation Earthshot event at Kew Gardens.

Each sat down with a group of 12-year-olds from The Heathland School in Hounslow, west London, and were told to come up with as “wild and wacky” ideas as possible using their character’s super power.

“We just need Ant Man here to help us find some answers,” the prince said, adjusting the toy’s arm as if he was asking to answer a question.

Kate appeared very enthusiastic about the Invisible Woman, saying: “Maybe she could make an invisible bubble that no-one can see to protect the planet so no-one can cut down any trees?”

Generation Earthshot is an offshoot of William’s Earthshot Prize which will award £50 million in prize money over the next decade to the best solutions to solving the world’s environmental crises. The first awards ceremony will be held on Sunday.

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

At the Royal Botanic Gardens, he and his wife joined the Mayor of London; explorer, naturalist and presenter Steve Backshall; his wife, Olympic rower Helen Glover; and students taking part in a series of fun, engaging and thought-provoking activities to generate “big, bold ideas” to repair the planet and to help spark a lasting enthusiasm for the natural world.

They were given tables, each one named after an Earthshot Prize, with William sitting at “Build a Waste Free World” and Kate at “Protect and Restore Nature”.

They were also left with a number of items - in William’s case a pack of playing cards, an apple and a drumstick and Kate a mobile phone, a key and an orange - and asked how they would use them to solve environmental problems.

“I’m just trying to work out how playing cards come into this,” said the prince. “And the drumstick, that’s quite hard to work out too.”

One boy suggested taking the pips from the apple, planting them and growing trees to make the drumsticks.

 (PA)
(PA)

He added: “You guys are coming up with some really practical solutions. Mine feel a bit pie in the sky.”

The couple also laughed and giggled as the children were encouraged to throw a large inflatable globe between their tables, designed to show how all their different ideas can link up. Chatting with the children afterwards, William chuckled loudly when one youngster asked him about his “designer clothes”.

“I wear very boring clothes. My wife wears nice colours,” he said, gesturing at the duchess’s bright green coat and jumper.

Speaking to Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, Kate said: “They are buzzing about it, they had such great ideas.”

William added: “They were asked to come up with some really crazy ideas, think out of the box. But actually some of the things they said are already been worked on by scientists, which shows how bright they are and are thinking on the right track.”

Yusef Rawn, 12, who was sat with William, said the future king had suggested getting all of their superheroes together, gathering all the world’s rubbish and ejecting it into space.

“One of his ideas at the end was getting all the superheroes together to lift all the rubbish into space to get it out of the world.

“We thought it was quite interesting but it wouldn’t work sadly because we don’t have any superheroes.”

But he added: “They helped to inspire us, coming up with ideas that we could develop.”

Kalina Wojcikiew, 12, said: “It was amazing to meet them. I’m just so glad there are people wanting to do something about the environment.”

Backshall said: “They were fantastic. Encouraging the children to throw out every idea possible. It’s the kind of attitude our leaders need if we are to have anything chance of making an impact on our climate’s problems.

“The duke’s project is pragmatic and has a tangible end game. For young people type issue can be so difficult to get your head round. This has a positive end solution.”

Glover added: “It’s been a very empowering event. Having the duke and duchess backing their campaign lends it not only credibility but creates a real buzz and excitement about it. You could feel it when they walked in the room. They really listened to the children and encouraged them to use their voices.”

Backshall elaborated: “They came in here for half an hour and really worked with the children. It’s so completely genuine. They sat and talked to them and listened to them. It’s not about adding your name as a tag to a project, it’s something they are hugely passionate about.”

Mr Khan said he found the couple enthusiastic and engaging. “I hope William and Catherine never decide to run for mayor, because they are really good people,” he said.

“What’s lovely is that they gave the kids so most confidence. They weren’t patronising. The kids were just fizzing. They will remember this day for the rest of their lives. They realise that this generation will not forgive us if our generation doesn’t solve these problems.’“

In a statement the Duke of Cambridge said: ‘Education is such an important part of protecting our planet. We must inspire in the next generation the optimism, confidence and enthusiasm to chase those solutions and to continue building a more sustainable future.

“We know that young children already identify the climate as one of their biggest worries, and Generation Earthshot aims to educate and encourage them that together we can find the answers.

“Children can be uniquely creative and I can’t wait to see some of the ideas that are shared with us.”

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