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Duchess Kate and Prince William woo Singapore crowds

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive in Singapore today for a nine-day tour of the Far East and South Pacific in honour of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

William and Kate will also tour Malaysia and the remote nations of the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu to mark the monarch's 60-year reign.

Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, principal private secretary and equerry to the Cambridges, said: "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 Duke and Duchess's characters and interests."

The official visits will be a colourful experience for the royals, who 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.

Other highlights include Kate making her first speech in a foreign country when she addresses staff and patients at a Malaysian hospice.

She is royal patron of East Anglia's Children's Hospices and gave her inaugural speech to volunteers and staff at the organisation's Ipswich hospice earlier this year.

William's interest in conservation and ecology will see the royals visit the rainforest jungles of the Malaysian state of Sabah, where they will climb up into the canopy.

In Tuvalu, the Duke is likely to learn about the concerns residents have about rising sea levels due to climate change.

The nation last received a royal visit in 1982 when the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were carried ashore in garland-covered "carriages" after arriving in the royal yacht Britannia.

Despite flying to the island, William and Kate are expected to receive a similar welcome and be carried from the aircraft.

The Cambridges' first engagement today is an orchid naming ceremony in Singapore when flowers will be named after the Duke and Duchess.

In a poignant moment, the royal couple will see an orchid named after William's mother Diana, Princess of Wales.

The former royal was expected to see the bloom but she died in a car crash in Paris in 1997 - the 15th anniversary of her death fell last month.

In the evening the royals will receive an official guard of honour welcome at Istana, the official residence of President Tony Tan Keng Yam - before having an informal meeting with the Singapore head of state, and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

In the evening, a state reception and dinner will be staged in their honour.

The Diamond Jubilee tour will take the royal couple to Singapore from September 11-13; on to Malaysia, where they will tour Kuala Lumpur and Sabah, from September 13-15; to the Solomon Islands between September 16-18; and the final stop is Tuvalu from September 18-19.

Mosquitoes, soaring temperatures, and a gruelling schedule

Kate has flown overseas before on a royal tour but Singapore, Malaysia, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu are likely to be a very different proposition to last year's trip to North America.

Language barriers and observing local customs are also potential hazards for the Duchess who is far less experienced then the Duke in official foreign travel.

Flying around the region in celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee will probably be enjoyable but hard work for the royal couple.

But there is likely to be extra attention on Kate, focusing on what the Duchess chooses to wear in the hot and humid countries.

During her tour of Canada last summer, the royal dressed in the Commonwealth country's national colours of white and red for Canada Day and even donned a "10 gallon hat" to complete her cowgirl look at the Calgary Stampede.

The Duchess wore more than 25 specially selected outfits for the North American tour and style experts will be waiting to see, and comment on, her every sartorial move in the Far East - sizing up the fashion statements she makes with each dress, hat and bag.

It remains to be seen whether she will tailor her outfits to fit the countries she is visiting.

But the Queen is a past master of complimenting her hosts through her dresses, and over the years has worn a number of gowns featuring a country's national colours or incorporating a national flower or animal into an outfit.

At a state dinner in Lahore during her 1961 tour of India and Pakistan, she wore a magnificent duchesse-satin gown in ivory and emerald green, the national colours of Pakistan, and in 2009 when she visited Trinidad and Tobago her outfit featured the country's national birds, a scarlet ibis and cocrico, and flower the chaconia.

There are a number of formal or state dinners during the tour when Kate could wear some 'royal bling' - priceless tiaras, earrings and necklaces - possibly loaned by the Queen.

There will be a team of people to help William and Kate look, sound and perform at their best.

Handling the media, which could number more than 50 journalists, cameramen and photographers from around the world, will be a team of three led by the couple's outgoing press secretary Miguel Head.

Other members of the nine-strong team include the royal's advisor, former British ambassador to the US Sir David Manning, Kate's newly appointed private secretary Rebecca Deacon, and Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, the Cambridge's principal private secretary and equerry.

Kate will be bringing a hairdresser to help maintain her dark flowing hair but will be picking her own outfits as she will not have an official dresser.

The royals will also have the help of an orderly, working behind the scenes handling tour logistics, like managing the luggage and transport.

With around five engagements a day over the coming nine days Kate will be kept busy as she tours the region with her husband but will be ready to do the Queen proud.

Belfast Telegraph


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