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Kate has a fit of the giggles as she tries her hand at archery in Bhutan

The Duchess of Cambridge had a fit of the giggles when she tried her hand at Bhutan's national sport of archery and saw her arrow fall way short of the target.

William and Kate renewed their sporting rivalry when they took up bamboo bows under the watchful eye of the King of Bhutan's half-brother Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck, on the first day of their tour of the mountainous country.

The Duchess wore a Bhutanese-inspired outfit with a dazzling mauve and blue skirt made from local material and styled on the country's national dress, and teamed with a top by Paul & Joe.

The couple had been welcomed to the country with a colourful procession in the capital Thimphu that left them in awe of their surroundings in the Tashichho Dzong - the king's seat and home to government offices.

Archery is more than a national sport to the Bhutanese, it is a social occasion, is performed at festivals, and strong rivalries build up between competing villages.

Competitors fire at a tiny colourful target more than 140 metres away and cheerleaders not only sing songs supporting their team but carry out a mild form of sledging - distracting their rivals with witty insults.

William was given detailed instructions by Prince Jigyel, who is heavily involved in sports, and took aim at the target that was only 40 metres away, at the Changlimithang National Archery Ground.

His first effort missed and, commenting about a road in the distance, he said: "Did that clear the bank? Because it looked like it did. I don't want to cause a crash."

When his second arrow also went wayward, he added: "I hope I haven't killed the driver or that man on the bridge."

Injuries from competitors hitting spectators are one of the most common reasons for people being admitted to hospital.

When Kate stepped up William gave her a few tips on how to hold the simple bow, and said: "You'll be fine. You should try to shoot up in the air."

But she was left howling with laughter when her one and only effort thudded in to the ground metres from the target.

The couple were no more successful when they tried out khuru, the nation's second most popular sport, which was developed by cow herders who would fashion large darts out of tree branches and bird feathers.

They watched women competitors throwing the darts at a target, hoping to score a karey - or hit.

But when Kate had a go she nearly scored a direct hit on a group of women players. Her dart fell just short of one of them and a second attempt went wide and she called out: "So sorry."

William and Kate arrived from India and were first welcomed to Bhutan with a ceremonial procession called a Chipdrel staged to greet guests like heads of states.

The Duchess had been wearing a golden yellow Emilia Wickstead outfit when she stepped from the plane but had changed into her Bhutanese-inspired outfit for the traditional greeting.

The parade of monks and officials in brightly coloured ceremonial dress carrying auspicious objects filed into the Tashichho Dzong, with the Duke and Duchess the last to enter.

Inside the imposing complex decorated with fluttering gold flags and enormous banners the Cambridges had a private audience with King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and his wife Queen Jetsun Pema - dubbed the Himalayan "William and Kate".

They emerged around 30 minutes later and walked across a large courtyard to a temple with a shrine to a huge gold coloured buddha and inside they were blessed and used tapers to light butter lamps.

Kinley Dorji, secretary of Bhutan's ministry of information and communication, said about the royal visit: "In every sense it is an historical moment and it's going to be recorded in the history of the two families, two lineages, the two countries.

"To us royal families mean continuity, political governments come and go, monarchy provides that long-term vision."

In the evening William and Kate and the King and Queen of Bhutan had a private dinner at Lingkana Palace.

The Cambridges left the Taj Tashi hotel where they are staying with William wearing a suit without a tie, and Kate dressed in a Tory Burch floral mesh full-length gown, teamed with black open-toed heels and a red shawl.

The office of the Bhutanese royal family released details of the private audience the King and Queen had with the Cambridges earlier in the day - and how the monarch wished the British Queen, who turns 90 next week, happy birthday.

A spokeswoman said: "His Majesty conveyed wishes to the Queen of the United Kingdom for her 90th birthday celebrations through the Duke and Duchess. Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her birthday on 21st April."

She added: "Their Majesties and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge lit 1,000 butterlamps at the Grand Kuenrey. "

Earlier news emerged that a rhino had been killed by poachers at Kaziranga National Park in India yesterday while the Cambridges were visiting the area.

A Kensington Palace spokesman said: "The Duke and Duchess were angry to hear about the killing of this rhino during their visit.

"They hope their time in Kaziranga encourages others to support the brave rangers that are protecting animals that are so important to the communities that surround the national park."


From Belfast Telegraph