Kate Middleton 'Felt Really Proud' of Prince William at Earthshot Awards: 'They Are a Strong Team'

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's strong partnership was on display at the inaugural Earthshot Prize ceremony on Sunday

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend the Earthshot Prize 2021 at Alexandra Palace on October 17, 2021 in London, England.
Prince William and Kate Middleton. Photo: Joe Maher/Getty

Kate Middleton is Prince William's number one fan!

When he stepped off the stage where he made a heartfelt address at the inaugural Earthshot Prize Awards ceremony on Sunday night, the Duchess of Cambridge was waiting for him with a huge welcome.

Kate, 39, "was so clearly really proud of him when he came back from his speech," says Getty royal photographer Chris Jackson, who was capturing exclusive behind-the-scenes images of the event for PEOPLE. "She had been watching on the backstage TV. They are a strong team."

Jackson's intimate images from the night show William taking a last-minute look at his speech, Kate heading out into the lights of the stage at Alexandra Palace and the royal couple holding hands in a rare public display of affection.

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He adds, "Seeing firsthand, you had this realization of the huge amount of work this was for [William]. It was a really special evening."

earthshot exclusive behind the scenes photos
Prince William and Kate Middleton with Emma Watson. Chris Jackson/Getty Images for the Royal Foundation

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William tells PEOPLE in the current issue: "The urgency of the situation can't be overstated, but through the Earthshot Prize I want to show people across the world why there is reason to be hopeful."

"Seeing the incredible solutions that have been developed by the first winners of the Prize — and all of our finalists — shows us that the answers are out there," he says. "By recognizing these efforts and supporting and scaling them to be the best they can be, we can inspire the confidence that a healthier, more sustainable future is within our grasp."

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This week's issue.

For more on the Earthshot Prize and William's mission, as well exclusive backstage photos from the ceremony, pick up a copy of this week's PEOPLE, on newsstands on Friday

Next year's ceremony, when Earthshot will choose five more innovative projects to support with $1.3 million will be held in the U.S. William announced on Sunday.

The Earthshot Prize Ceremony, with Emma Thompson, Emma Watson, David Oyelowo and Mo Salah among the presenters and Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendes and KSI and Coldplay performing, can be viewed on discovery+. William's five films in the Earthshot Prize: Repairing Our Planet series are also on discovery+

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