A moving tribute. Prince William honored his late grandmother Queen Elizabeth II in a speech at the United for Wildlife Global Summit.
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“Our natural world is one of our greatest assets,” the Prince of Wales, 40, began on Tuesday, October 4, in London. “It is a lesson I learned from a young age, from my father and my grandfather, both committed naturalists in their own right, and also from my much-missed grandmother, who cared so much for the natural world.”
The Duke of Cambridge continued: “In times of loss, it is a comfort to honor those we miss through the work we do. And I take great comfort then from the progress we are making to end the illegal wildlife trade.”
The occasion marked William’s first speech since the queen’s death at age 96 on September 8, as well as his first speech as the Prince of Wales. The Duke of Cornwall inherited the title from King Charles III after his father, 73, acceded to the throne of England.
The former military pilot founded United for Wildlife in 2014 with The Royal Foundation, with the goal of protecting animals from the illegal wildlife trade.
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“There are still too many criminals who believe they can act with impunity,” the prince said on Tuesday. “I call on all of you here today, those involved in United for Wildlife and further afield, keep breaking the mold. Keep building bridges and making those game-changing connections. Keep believing that this is a crime that can be ended once and for all.”
Last month, William was scheduled to speak at the Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit in New York City, but he canceled his appearance following the death of Elizabeth. Instead, he addressed the summit via video message.
“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,” he said on September 21. “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.”
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Two days after the queen’s death, William reflected on his grandmother’s legacy in an emotional statement. “On Thursday, the world lost an extraordinary leader, whose commitment to the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth was absolute,” he said. “I, however, have lost a grandmother. And while I will grieve her loss, I also feel incredibly grateful. I have had the benefit of the queen’s wisdom and reassurance into my fifth decade.”
The former sovereign was laid to rest on September 19 at Windsor Castle after a funeral held in Westminster Abbey. She was interred alongside her late husband, Prince Philip, who died in April 2021 at age 99.
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