Duke and Duchess of Cambridge hope to repeat success of their North America tour
Stops on their itinerary include Singapore, Malaysia and Borneo
Final stop is Tuvalu, where Prince William's grandfather, Prince Philip, is revered as a god
The first overseas tour by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – North America – was an undisputed triumph. The couple, still basking in the glow of their globally televised wedding, drew vast crowds throughout Canada and California.
Will their hosts in Southeast Asia be charmed as easily? Here’s my best guess as to where and when the likely highlights will be.
The most poignant moment would undoubtedly be at the start of the tour in Singapore. In 1997, the Singapore Botanic Gardens named an orchid after Prince William’s mother, Diana, with the intention of presenting it to her on her next visit – but she died before she had a chance to see it.
William completed what Diana could not on the first day of his tour Tuesday. He and his wife also had an orchid named after them.
The next stop, Malaysia, will take on a more excitable tone – and it’s all about Catherine. A bigger population means bigger crowds, and the British High Commission is doing what it can to whip up interest by tweeting details of where you can rub shoulders with the couple.
The Duchess will give only her second public speech at a hospice in Kuala Lumpur. Public speaking doesn’t come naturally to Catherine, but she clearly wants to make the hospice movement a key part of her public role: her first public speech as a royal was at East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, the hospice charity she supports in the UK.
Catherine will be more comfortable on Thursday night for what’s set to be the most glamorous evening of the tour: full frocks and rocks for a state dinner hosted by the King of Malaysia, whose name – Almu’tasimu Billahi Muhibbuddin Tuanku Alhaj Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Badlishah – takes some getting used to. Luckily for the Duke and Duchess, the king – who attended Oxford University – speaks fluent English.
From the city to the jungles of Borneo on Saturday and the couple will visit a conservation project in Sabah, recommended to them by Prince Charles, who shares a passion for the environment with his eldest son. Royal photographers are holding out for an encounter with orangutans as the couple negotiate rope bridges high up in the forest canopy.
On Sunday, expect a big South Pacific welcome in the Solomon Islands and a canoe trip to paradise. After a series of formal engagements, the Duke and Duchess will spend the night at the luxury Tuvanipupu resort before heading off to their final destination: the remote island of Tuvalu, where the Queen is head of state and her husband, Prince Philip, is revered as a god. When William’s grandparents visited Tuvalu they were carried on the shoulders of warriors, creating one of the abiding images of the Queen’s 60-year reign.
The Duke and Duchess are likely to get the same treatment when they arrive there next week as they cement their role as the next generation of British – and Tuvaluan – royalty.