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Earthshot Prize Awards in Boston was an entertaining evening

The Prince and Princess of Wales were at the glittering Friday night Earthshot Prize ceremony to award $5 million to people with ideas to save the planet, or at least delay its immolation.

Guests attended The Earthshot Prize Awards at the MGM Music Hall in Boston on Friday.DAVID L. RYAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Polite applause is not what Tom Kelly wanted.

The stand-up comedian, whose day job is warming up audiences on TV shows like “The $100,000 Pyramid” and “America’s Got Talent,” needed the crowd at MGM Music Hall to make some noise.

“You’re not just at an episode of ‘The View,’ people!” Kelly hollered into a microphone. “This is the real deal. We’re saving the world!”

The audience seemed puzzled. The invite to Friday’s Earthshot Prize ceremony promised a “glittering affair” with performances by Billie Eilish and Annie Lennox. But really what they’d been summoned to was the taping of a TV show starring the Prince and Princess of Wales.


The royal couple, wrapping up a three-day visit to Boston, were on hand to award more than $5 million to people with ideas to save the planet, or at least delay its immolation. And as the cameras rolled, the crowd was there to cheer on demand. Enthusiastically.

“I need all you guys moving, even you rich people down here,” Kelly barked at the black ties and ball gowns seated in front, a clutch that included Governor Charlie Baker and wife, Lauren, Utah Senator Mitt Romney and wife, Ann, and former secretary of state and current presidential envoy for climate John Kerry and his daughter Vanessa.

Despite the scripting, the 90-minute ceremony, which will air on the BBC and PBS in the coming days, managed to entertain.

Eilish wasn’t there — her performance of “My Future” was recorded off-site — but Lennox, accompanying herself on piano, delivered a mesmerizing version of “Here Comes the Rain Again” and sister act Chloe x Halle excited the crowd with their performance of “Feeling Good.”

Predictably at an event described by the evening’s co-host, actor Daniel Dae Kim, as “the Oscars of the earth,” there was a lot of reuse-and-recycle talk. Kim said guests had been asked to “embrace pre-loved outfits” — translation: don’t wear something new — and the princess, at least, obliged, wearing a rented, green gown with an emerald choker necklace that belonged to her husband’s late mother, Princess Diana.


Likewise, Kim’s sidekick, BBC Radio personality Clara Amfo, said all the bushes and small trees brought in to make the stage look like a secret garden would be planted in communities and at schools around Boston, not landfilled.

It wasn’t only bigshots who scored a ticket to Friday’s finale.

Taking photos with friends on the appropriately green carpet, Jasmine Rigueur, a member of the Student Government Association at Bunker Hill Community College, said she doesn’t know why she was invited, but she accepted immediately.

“Honestly, I’m here to see Billie Eilish,” Rigueur said, unaware then that Eilish would only be appearing on a screen. “It’s just a plus to have the prince and princess here, too.”

Boston Fire Commissioner Paul Burke was in uniform, but he said he wasn’t working. As a member of Mayor Michelle Wu’s cabinet, he’d been invited to attend and was excited to see Lennox perform.

“That’s who I’m looking forward to, not the royalty,” he said. “My wife’s killing me because I didn’t get a second ticket.”

Outside the venue, there were plenty of people who were interested in glimpsing William and Kate, and who can blame them? It’d been a while since a member of the royal family got the royal treatment in Boston. Forty-six years, in fact, and a lot has changed since then: Buzzy’s Roast Beef was considered fine dining when Queen Elizabeth II visited in 1976, delivering a speech at the Old State House.


By evening’s end, there was so much goodwill in the room that it seemed possible Prince William would seize on the positive vibe and ask for the country back — to let bygones be bygones and make America part of the British Empire again. It didn’t happen. Instead, the Prince of Wales, who has a streak of his father’s fuddy-duddiness, intoned solemnly about the fate of the earth.

“The decisions we make now will affect generations to come,” he said. “Which is why we must choose the path of hope, optimism, and urgency to repair our planet.”

It’s a tall order, but doable, said Caroline Kennedy, whose late father, President John F. Kennedy, inspired the prince’s Earthshot initiative with his famous 1962 “moonshot speech,” which rallied public support for landing a man on the moon by the end of the decade.

“Governments around the world and people around the world are demanding progress on this fight,” Kennedy said, standing in the lobby at the end of the night. “I think we’ll be able to look back in 60 years and say that we saved our planet.”

Or maybe not. As the crowd walked out of MGM Music Hall, a phalanx of enormous SUVs were idling on Lansdowne Street, emitting who-knows-how-much CO2 while they waited to whisk the royal couple away.


Prince William and Kate arrived at the MGM Music Hall for Earthshot Awards ceremony
After a day of royal engagements, Friday marks the marquee event of the Prince and Princess of Wales’ trip to Boston: The star-studded Earthshot Awards.

Mark Shanahan can be reached at mark.shanahan@globe.com. Follow him @MarkAShanahan.