As the heir to the throne, Prince William is keeping calm and carrying on.
On Tuesday, the Prince of Wales confirmed that Jacinda Ardern, former prime minister of New Zealand, joined the Board of Trustees for the Earthshot Prize, his prestigious environmental award.
Ardern’s latest career move took place months after she seemingly distanced herself from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle following the release of their “Live to Lead” Netflix docuseries in December 2022.
It is an honour to welcome @jacindaardern to the @EarthshotPrize team. Her life-long commitment to supporting sustainable and environmental solutions, along with her experience as Prime Minister of New Zealand, will bring a rich infusion of new thinking to our mission. W https://t.co/FYlKVqEeRl
— The Prince and Princess of Wales (@KensingtonRoyal) April 4, 2023
“Jacinda Ardern has always had a friendly relationship with the Prince and Princess of Wales,” Kinsey Schofield, host of the “To Di For Daily” podcast, told Fox News Digital. “I think this collaboration makes sense for them both. Their contributions will make a powerful impact in the environmental space.”
“In terms of Harry versus William, I felt like Ardern drew a line in the sand in December 2022 when she insisted that she had not worked with the Sussexes on ‘Live to Lead,’” Schofield added.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex served as executive producers on “Live to Lead,” a documentary series that premiered on New Year’s Eve. The film came shortly after “Harry & Meghan,” the couple’s six-part docuseries that made history as the streaming service’s biggest documentary debut ever with 81.55 million viewing hours. In it, the couple detailed their struggles with royal life and why they chose to call California home, where they now reside.
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The former prime minister, along with seven other high-profiled figures, starred in “Live to Lead.” However, the 42-year-old issued a statement, clarifying she wasn’t aware of the couple’s involvement in the series when her interview was shot. Her office issued a statement saying she was approached by the Nelson Mandela Project in 2019 to participate in the film, The Telegraph reported.
“Jacinda Ardern was one of the first personalities to publicly distance herself from the project insisting that she thought she was working with The Nelson Mandela Foundation,” Schofield clarified.
In January of this year, Ardern announced she was resigning as prime minister after five years in office. Ardern shared she wouldn’t seek reelection, noting she wanted to spend more time with her partner Clarke Gayford and their daughter Neve, whom they welcomed in 2018.
Ardern was elected prime minister in 2017 at age 37, becoming the youngest female head of government in the world. According to People magazine, Ardern befriended William during her time leading the Commonwealth country. She also spoke on his behalf at the inaugural Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit in September. William, 41, was unable to attend following the death of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, days before.
“It’s good news that William and [his wife] Catherine have recruited high profile names like the former New Zealand prime minister to their cause,” royal commentator and broadcaster Jonathan Sacerdoti told Fox News Digital.
“The Earthshot Prize is a positive initiative intended to highlight people doing important work for the planet, so having big names involved, especially those with leadership experience, is an important way to get more attention for the cause,” he revealed. “Prince William’s Earthshot Prize is a continuation of the work that King Charles has done for years to promote better stewardship of our planet and environment. Like his father, Prince William has made environmental work a primary focus of his service.”
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The British prince created the contest in 2020 to highlight environmental innovators. The name was inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s 1962 “moonshot” speech, which challenged Americans to reach the moon by the end of the decade. William and his partners created a similar goal to find solutions to climate change and other environmental problems by 2030.
Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams called Ardern’s new appointment “highly significant,” one that will “launch the next phase of her career.” However, it does make royal watchers wonder what her relationship is like with the Sussexes today.
“Her relations with the Sussexes were reportedly close after they toured the South Pacific in 2018, and they are reported to have subsequently kept in touch,” Fitzwilliams explained. “Meghan included her in her ‘Forces for Change’ cover of Vogue.”
“However, when an interview with [Ardern] was included in ‘Live to Lead,’ she released a statement emphasizing that her links with the project had been with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and there had been no communication with the Sussexes, who fronted the interviews and whose Archewell Productions were also involved,” he continued. “This was clearly distancing themselves from Harry and Meghan who by now had become critical of the monarchy.”
The Guardian reported that Ardern learned the Sussexes were tied to the documentary the day the trailer was released.
“It isn’t a stretch to assume the former prime minister is further distancing herself from the Sussexes by accepting William’s invitation to sign on as a trustee of his most high-profile charitable endeavor,” chimed Christopher Andersen, author of “The King.” “I think we may well see the two camps competing for celebrity endorsements of their various causes, which just further strains an already tense relationship.”
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The relationship between William and his younger brother Harry, 38, is said to be strained. In “Harry & Meghan,” Harry alleged that William screamed at him during the Sandringham Summit. At the time, Harry sat down with William, as well as the queen and the former Prince Charles, to discuss how the Sussexes could lead independent lives.
“It was terrifying to have my brother scream and shout at me, and my father say things that simply weren’t true, and my grandmother quietly sit there and sort of take it all in,” said Harry. “The saddest part of it was this wedge created between myself and my brother so that he’s now on the institution’s side. Part of that I get, I understand, right, that’s his inheritance. So to some extent, it’s already ingrained in him that part of his responsibility is the survivability and continuation of this institution.”
Harry went on to allege in his memoir “Spare,” published in January of this year, that William attacked him during a ferocious argument. Neither Buckingham Palace nor William’s Kensington Palace office commented on the allegations.
Royal expert Shannon Felton Spence told Fox News Digital that despite any tensions with his brother, William, as the heir, has chosen to put the crown first.
“The Royal Foundation officially moved Earthshot to an independent foundation last year,” she explained. “So Prince William is the founder, he is the board of trustees president, but technically, it is its own thing now.”
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“Earthshot has proven impact,” she shared. “Jacinda has proven impact in a nation vulnerable to climate change. She has convening power, she is young and dynamic. It’s a very smart diplomatic add to the trustees and a good place for her to lend her name and impact for the next phase of her career.”
“It’s sort of not surprising that both the Wales and Sussexes would want to align themselves with her,” she continued. “It’s frankly another example of royalty in action being more attractive than a celebrity in inaction. The exclusivity, mystique, diplomatic power of the crown will win out over Tinseltown every time.”
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they were stepping back as senior royals in 2020. They cited the media’s racist treatment of the duchess, who is biracial, and a lack of support from the palace.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.