Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

William and Kate dance night away

The Duchess of Cambridge dances with locals at Vaiaku Falekaupule during a visit to Tuvalu
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are carried from a boat to the plane in Marau in the Solomon Islands before departing for Tuvalu

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have become true South Pacific royalty after they donned colourful skirts and danced the night away at a gathering of island chiefs.

Until now they have been members of Tuvalu's royal family in name only but after their display at an inter-island singing celebration they can lay claim to being true born.

William and Kate shimmied, swayed their hips and moved their arms as they joined six island communities of the South Pacific nation at a fateles, or local dance, where different groups try to out sing and dance each other in a friendly rivalry.

The duchess looked the more natural and got to her feet time after time to join the performers while William left it till later in the evening to try out his moves - and at one stage both had colourful skirts tied around them to make them really feel the part.

The rousing event capped a busy but exciting day for the royals who were welcomed with a greeting not seen since the Queen last set foot on Funafuti, Tuvalu's main island, in 1982. Carried shoulder high by more than 25 men in leaf skirts, William and Kate were processed from their charter jet sat side by side on ornate chairs in a 'carriage' with a thatched roof of leaves.

Looking a little bemused they appeared to be enjoying the ride that slowly made its way to the airport terminal - a tiny single storey building with a corrugated iron roof. Their way was led by around 40 singing women dressed in vibrant purple dresses covered in cream flowers that the island's government had specially made for many of the islanders to mark the occasion.

Thousands of residents from the island and Tuvalu's other outcrops and atolls lined the runway which receives only a few planes a week, and waved and cheered the procession.

The procession stopped in front of a guard of honour and nearby were island chiefs, dressed in colourful costumes, who were waiting to greet the royals along with Tuvalu's governor general, Sir Iakoba Taeia Italeli, and prime minister Willy Telavi.

After the couple chatted with the chiefs, a bare-chested islander wearing a leaf skirt blew a conch shell three times to signal the start of the fatele - a traditional welcoming ceremony - and the chiefs and politicians filed into the Vaiaku Falekaupule, a hall where community gatherings are held.

After a performance by a group of singers and dancers who created an electric atmosphere, with singing that was as deafening as it was rousing, the Duke rose to his feet and described their island nation as the highlight of the couple's Diamond Jubilee tour.

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