Kate and William touched down in Singapore today, for the beginning of a ten-day tour of the South Pacific which represents a golden opportunity for the Royal Family to take back control of the news agenda, after a summer in which the royal narrative was blown dramatically off course by randy Harry’s “Hangover”-style trip to Las Vegas, culminating in the publication of embarrassing photos of him naked, playing a game of strip billiards.
As Kate and William descended the steps of their airplane at Singapore airport and made their way to Raffles hotel, waving to the ecstatic crowds, it seemed the plan was working. It was instantly clear that while Harry may forever be a liability, the future of the British royal family is a secure as ever in the hands of the future King and Queen.
It was hard to disagree with the British High Commissioner in Singapore when he told the media pack in advance of his official welcome - 90 journalists, cameramen and photographers from countries including Japan, America, China, Germany, New Zealand and Australia are covering the story - "This is a couple who are global superstars and who make the British feel very, very good about themselves."
Indeed, this afternonoon in Singapore (William and Kate arrived at 2pm local time, and Singapore is 12 hours ahead of USA East Coast time) it was as if the Vegas scandal never happened. The reception was rapturous. The royal routines were cycled through as faultlessly as ever. William was shown an orchid named in honour of Princess Diana in Singapore's Botanic Gardens, and muttered, "It's beautiful, beautiful, that's very nice." Kate chatted about clothes shopping at British outlet store Bicester Village, telling the wife of the country's defence minister that she liked shopping there because, ‘everything is so contained.’
Nothing had changed; hell, Kate was still wearing her LK Bennet nude wedges (paired with a kimono-style pink dress with an orchid pattern by British designer Jenny Packham).
Just to be sure that nothing upsets the apple cart, the team of royal handlers traveling with William and Kate have let it be known that any media member rude enough to ask any awkward questions about the Harry incident risks being kicked off the tour.
Later today the Young Royals will receive an official guard of honour welcome at Istana, the official residence of the President, and a state reception and dinner will be staged in their honour.Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, their principal private secretary and equerry, said: "The Duke and Duchess will use the tour to pay tribute - through what they do and say and who they meet - to the Queens lifetime and dedication to the mix of peoples and cultures that make up all of Her Majestys realms and the Commonwealth."The tour will comprise a mixture of formal and informal moments which reflect these aims and the Duke and Duchess's characters and interests."
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.Tuvalu last received a royal visit in 1982 when the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were carried ashore in garland-covered canoes 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.