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Prince William marks 50 years of Malta independence in place of pregnant wife Kate

Malta's 50 years of independence were commemorated today by a solemn mass attended by leading national figures and the Duke of Cambridge.

In the majestic setting of St John's Co-Cathedral in the capital Valletta, prayers were said and hymns sung in thanksgiving for five decades of self rule.

William, a last minute replacement for his pregnant wife, sat in the front pew with Britain's high commissioner to Malta Rob Luke during the hour-long mass.

It is believed to be the first time the second-in-line to the throne has attended a public mass.

Kate was forced to withdraw from the two-day trip - scheduled to be her first official solo overseas visit - as she is still suffering from a severe form of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum.

When William was officially welcomed by Maltese president Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca yesterday, she asked about his wife and the Duke said she was "so-so", adding "she's so sad not to be here".

The cathedral was built in the 16th century as the church of the Order of the Knights of St John, former rulers of Malta and is lavishly decorated in the baroque style.


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