William, Kate arrive for Asia-Pacific tour

2012-09-11 10:24
Singapore - Britain's Prince William and his wife Catherine arrived in Singapore on Tuesday to kick off a Southeast Asian and Pacific tour marking Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee.

The nine-day trip through Singapore, Malaysia, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu will feature sentimental stops as well as the former Kate Middleton's first overseas speech as she settles into her duties with the British monarchy.

The glamorous couple's first visit will be to Singapore's Botanic Gardens, where an orchid will be named after them - an honour reserved for world-famous people and VIP visitors to the small but wealthy Asian state.

The orchid garden also has flowers named after the queen, who last visited Singapore in 2006, and William's mother Princess Diana, who died in a 1997 car crash in Paris.

Use the tour to pay tribute

Britain's younger royals are touring the globe this year as part of celebrations marking the 60-year reign of William's grandmother the queen as they seek to maintain the family's relevance in a rapidly changing world.

The royals also played a prominent role during the London Olympics but they suffered a public relations hiccup when William's younger brother, Harry, was photographed nude with a female friend at a Las Vegas hotel.

"The aim of the tour is to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee," said Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, principal private secretary and equerry to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as they are known under royal protocol.

"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," he said in London ahead of the tour.

First speech

William and Catherine, who were married in April 2011, will stay in Singapore until Thursday. They then head to Malaysia, where they will tour the capital Kuala Lumpur and Borneo's Sabah state from 13 – 15 September.

It is in Malaysia that Catherine will give her first speech abroad, to staff and patients at a hospice.

The pair will fly to the Solomon Islands, an impoverished former British protectorate north-east of Australia, and stay from 16 -18 September  before a final stop in the tiny nation of Tuvalu until 19 September.

The royals are also expected to take part in sporting activities and wear traditional dress when they visit the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu, as well as travel by canoe at one point.

Queen Elizabeth is head of state in the Solomons and Tuvalu, both of which are members of the Commonwealth, as are Singapore and Malaysia.