Royal couple to visit Asia-Pacific

Wax figures of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William are displayed during a...
Wax figures of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William are displayed during a media reception at the British embassy in Berlin in August. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
This week will mark a number of firsts for the royal family's newest duchess.

Prince William and his wife Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, will make their first official visit to the Asia-Pacific region, starting on Tuesday.

For the Duchess - popularly known as Kate - the visit will mark the first time she has made a speech abroad, had an orchid named for her and ridden in a garlanded war canoe.

There's also speculation she will continue her so far flawless metamorphosis into royalty by wearing one of the Queen's tiaras to an official dinner.

William and Kate, whose popularity has helped to reinvigorate the monarchy, will act as official representatives of Queen Elizabeth for her 60th year on the throne.

Much of the couple's nine-day itinerary, which takes in Singapore, Malaysia, the Solomon Islands and the tiny island of Tuvalu - but not Australia or New Zealand - has been personally selected by the Queen.

The weather, food, sights and smells will be a far cry from life on the Welsh island of Anglesey, where Kate and William are said to spend their time enjoying home-cooked meals and quiet nights on the sofa.

It's understood the duchess, who has spurned the idea of a personal shopper, has selected upward of 30 outfits.

As with her first trip aboard to Canada last year, the duchess is expected to showcase local designers, such as the Malaysian-born shoe designer Jimmy Choo.

Despite the heat, the leggy brunette will need to opt for a demure look at many of her official visits, given Islam is the largest practised religion in Malaysia.

William has said one of his regrets is that his mother never got to meet Kate, but the couple will take time out in Singapore to visit an orchid named after Diana in the Botanic Gardens.

Diana might have had a few words of encouragement for her daughter-in-law, who will make her first speech in a foreign country when she addresses staff and patients at a Malaysian hospice.

Meanwhile, Kate has revealed that William has been practising his dance moves.

She spoke about his preparations when the royal couple met the Solomon Islands' governor-general Sir Frank Kabui following a Diamond Jubilee thanksgiving service in London recently.

During the event, William said: "We're extremely excited. Both of us have never been anywhere near there."

The royals are expected to wear traditional dress when they visit the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu, as well as travel in a garlanded war canoe.

Canada played host to the couple's first official royal tour in June and July last year.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge won't be visiting Australia or New Zealand.

Instead, William's father and heir to the throne, Prince Charles, will visit the two countries later this year with his wife Camilla.

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