SINGAPORE -- Prince William arrived Sunday in Singapore for the annual Earthshot Prize awards, the first to be held in Asia, to support environmental innovators with solutions to battle climate change and save the planet.
Upon his arrival, dozens of people waving British flags welcomed him with loud cheers. William, 41, shook hands, signed autographs and sportingly took selfies with many of them during a walkabout.
"It's fantastic to be back in Singapore for this year's Earthshot Prize ceremony, after eleven years," he said in a statement upon landing. "Singapore's bold vision to be a leader for environmental innovation sets the standard for others to follow."
"He has this charm," said Johanes Mario, a Singaporean welcoming William at the airport. "He really fights for ... the climate. I believe this is really a good cause for the future of our generation," he added.
At Singapore's Changi Airport and before greeting the crowd, William stood on an upper floor for a stunning view of the 40-meter high Rain Vortex, the world's largest indoor waterfall that was illuminated green to mark his arrival. He was also shown a tree planted in his honor in the indoor garden at the foot of the waterfall.
The heir to the British throne last visited Singapore with his wife Princess Catherine in 2012. Traveling solo this time, William's focus is on the Earthshot Prize that he and his Royal Foundation charity launched in 2020 to promote innovative solutions and technologies to combat global warming and mitigate its impact on the environment.
Five winners will be named at an award ceremony on Tuesday. Each will get a $1.2 million to help them scale up their projects for wider global reach. Fifteen finalists representing six continents were selected from 1,300 nominees this year. The winners are from five categories: nature protection, clean air, ocean revival, waste elimination and climate change.
William will address the star-studded ceremony, to be hosted by English actress Hannah Waddingham. Renowned wildlife conservationist Robert Irwin and celebrities including Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett and actresses Lana Condor and Nomzamo Mbatha, are expected to attend the event.
The inaugural ceremony was held in London in 2021, followed by Boston last year. The prize's name refers to the late President John F. Kennedy's 1962 "moonshot" speech, which challenged Americans to reach the moon by the end of that decade. That inspired the prince and his partners to set a similar goal for finding solutions to pressing environmental problems by 2030.
Singapore's Foreign Ministry said William will call on Singapore President Tharman Shanmugaratnam and meet Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loon at The Istana palace -- one of Singapore's oldest heritage sites -- during his four-day trip.
William, a keen sportsman, will also try his hand at dragon boating, a popular sport in Singapore and many parts of the world. He will also meet Singaporeans to see how local organizations are working to protect and restore the planet.
William's office at Kensington Palace has said that Singapore was chosen to host this year's awards ceremony because of its role as a "hub for innovation" in Southeast Asia.
William will also attend the United for Wildlife global summit, featuring representatives of law enforcement agencies, conservation groups and corporations working to combat trade in illegal wildlife products, estimated at $20 billion annually.