BOSTON ― Prince William and Kate Middleton kicked off their trip to America by telling reporters that they are “delighted to be back in the United States,” eight years after their last visit.

William issued a statement about the royal couple’s three-day visit ― and the first as the Prince and Princess of Wales ― by paying tribute to his late grandmother, Queen Elizabeth. The queen died in September at age 96 after an astonishing 70 years on the throne.

“On this, our first overseas visit since the death of my grandmother, I would like to thank the people of Massachusetts and particularly of Boston for their many tributes paid to the late Queen,” William said on Tuesday, just after the royals landed at Boston Logan International Airport. “She remembered her 1976 bicentennial visit with great fondness.”

The prince said before speaking about his Earthshot Prize Awards, which will take place in Boston on Friday: “My grandmother was one of life’s optimists. And so am I.”

The Prince of Wales was previously supposed to be in New York in September but canceled his trip after the death of his grandmother.

“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,” he said. “Protecting the environment was a cause close to my grandmother’s heart, and I know she would have been delighted to hear about this event.”

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