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William joins Malta celebrations

The Duke of Cambridge will today join the people of Malta in celebrating the 50th anniversary of their independence.

William is taking the place of his pregnant wife Kate who was forced to withdraw from the trip - scheduled to be her first official solo overseas visit - as she is still suffering from a severe form of morning sickness.

Kate, who is pregnant with her second child, had been in doubt after suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum for around two weeks.

The Cambridges made their decision on Wednesday night in consultation with the Duchess' doctors.

Kate was also forced to cancel a number of engagements last week after her pregnancy was announced last Monday.

Her pregnancy has not passed the 12-week stage and there is speculation that the royal couple's second child could be due in April next year.

Hyperemesis gravidarum, which affects 3.5 per 1,000 pregnancies, causes severe vomiting and can lead to dehydration, weight loss and a build-up of toxins in the blood or urine, called ketosis.

Kate has been treated at home by medical staff and at the beginning of last week William said they had experienced a ''tricky few days''.

The itinerary for the visit remains the same and will begin with the Duke formally calling on Malta's President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

Later in the centre of the capital Valletta he will watch a re-enactment of an historical event - the inspection of the fort and garrison by the grand bailiff of the Order of the Knights of St John, former rulers of Malta.

In the national library William will be shown documents, including letters from his ancestors Henry VIII and George II, and the original citation awarding the George Cross to Malta for withstanding sustained bombardment during the Second World War.

Malta gained its independence from the UK on September 21, 1964 and during the evening the Duke will attend celebrations in the capital's Upper Barrakka Gardens marking the 50th anniversary of the milestone.

He will give a speech and watch a planned fireworks display.

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