Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Prince William and Kate Middleton visit Singapore

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been formally welcomed to Singapore on the first day of their tour of South East Asia and the South Pacific.

Prince William was accompanied by President Tony Tan to inspect a guard of honour at the presidential palace.

Earlier, the couple viewed an orchid named after the duke's late mother, which she never had a chance to see.

The couple will also visit Malaysia, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu during the trip to mark the Diamond Jubilee.

Singapore's Botanic Gardens' manager, Alan Tan Chye Soon, said it was "so sad" Diana, Princess of Wales, which did not get chance to see the bloom, but added: "It was like William and Kate are fulfilling her promise today."

The prince was heard praising the bloom, saying: "It's beautiful."

The princess died in a car crash in August 1997 just weeks before she was due to visit the gardens to see the orchid.

William and Catherine also saw a pink orchid - Vanda William Catherine - named after themselves.

'Global superstars'

Earlier, the royals were greeted at Singapore Changi airport by senior parliamentary secretary for the ministry of defence, Maliki Osman.

"It's a great honour to have them here in Singapore, for them to be starting their tour here," he said.

His wife Sadiah Bte Shahal presented Catherine with a bouquet of yellow flowers.

Speaking ahead of their arrival, Antony Phillipson, British high commissioner to Singapore, who also greeted the couple, said there had been "mounting excitement" about the visit.

"This is a couple who are global superstars and make the British feel very, very good about themselves - that's as true in Singapore as anywhere else."

The royals will later have an informal meeting with the Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Following the formal welcome, a state reception and dinner will be held in their honour.

Traditional dress

During the trip across the Far East and South Pacific, the royals are expected to get involved in sporting activities, wear traditional dress when in the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu, travel by canoe and receive traditional welcomes.

The duchess will also make her first speech in a foreign country when she addresses staff and patients at a Malaysian hospice.

Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, principal private secretary to the duke and duchess, told the AFP news agency: "The duke and duchess will use the tour to pay tribute - through what they do and say and who they meet - to the Queen's lifetime and dedication to the mix of peoples and cultures that make up all of Her Majesty's realms and the Commonwealth.

"The tour will comprise a mixture of formal and informal moments which reflect these aims and the duke and duchess's characters and interests."

Catherine is taking a hairdresser, paid for privately, on the trip and nine people will travel with the couple in total, including their adviser Sir David Manning, a former British ambassador to the US.

St James's Palace has said it has tried to keep travel costs down and the royals would travel by scheduled long-haul flights to and from the region and by charter to the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

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