By REBECCA ENGLISH, ROYAL CORRESPONDENT in the SOLOMON ISLANDS
PUBLISHED: 23:47 EST, 16 September 2012 | UPDATED: 10:14 EST, 17 September 2012
- Duke and Duchess of Cambridge make latest stop on South Pacific tour in Solomon Islands
- Treated to traditional warrior welcome and travel in war canoe
- Kate talks of married life and importance of her family
- Duchess swapped bright yellow Jaeger day dress for navy blue Mulberry frock for evening
- Kate given decorative headpiece by well-wishers made from exotic frangipani and bougainvillea
The irony could not have been lost on her.
And as the Duchess of Cambridge received an intricate beaded necklace from a gaggle of bare-chested locals she couldn’t help but let out a giggle.
The Young Royals were garlanded with the traditional jewellery during their visit to the tiny village of Marau in the Solomon Islands before taking the scenic route to Tavanipupu aboard a traditional war canoe.
It was a world away from the storm that has engulfed the couple because of topless pictures of Kate published by a french magazine Closer last week. The Duke and Duchess’s lawyers are in a Paris court today seeking an injunction to prevent the further spread of the images.
How funny: Kate stifles a giggle as she and William are garlanded by a gaggle of bare-chested women after they arrive on Marau in the Solomon Islands
Baring all: It was a world away from the storm that has engulfed the couple because of topless pictures of Kate published by a french magazine Closer last week
Intricate: The colourful necklaces, worth up to £150 each, took three months to make
Hello! The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge receive a traditional welcome from locals when they land in Marau
But tonight Kate and William can at least put the anguish of recent days to one side to enjoy an evening together on the paradise island.
The couple are staying in a secluded £780-a-night (1,200 Australian dollars) thatched leaf bungalow with its own private jetty from where they can go sunbathing, snorkelling and canoe paddling.
House No 1, their home for the night, stocked with the finest champagne, has just one large room, bathroom and a spacious outdoor shower area – with enough space for two.
Fortunately, given recent events, the bungalow also stands in its own grounds behind a bamboo fence and gate hastily erected to give the royal couple more privacy.
The Duke and Duchess were expected to dine alone together tonight inside or, more likely, out on the jetty, where there is a sunlounger beside the crystal-clear water and four black rattan chairs beneath a bamboo shelter screened by a muslin cloth.
Royal entrance: Kate steps off the plane for the next leg of her and William’s South Pacific tour
Welcome – Marau style: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are traditionally welcomed to Marau
On our way: Prince William chats with an islander as he makes his way through a path of brightly coloured flowers at the Marau landing strip
Pit stop: The Royal couple stop midway along a walk way to watch a group of bare chested women perform a water dance
On Irish chef Paul Carr’s menu: a wide choice of exquisite international and Solomon Islands cuisine, including the island’s own coconut-fed chickens, and freshly-caught ikamata – yellow fin tuna in lime juice and coconut milk – and chilli mud crab.
‘The menu that we have tonight, we’ve practised for two weeks,’ the chef said.
The couple’s bungalow sits beside the palm-fringed shore of the 37-acre tropical island in the beautiful Marau Sound lagoon beside the Coral Sea in the Solomon Islands.
Canoe to paradise: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge then enjoyed the scenic route to Tavanipupu Island in a traditional war canoe
Outfit change: Kate swapped her yellow Jaeger day dress for a navy blue Mulberry frock for evening while the Duke chose an eye-popping pink shirt…but what’s that behind them?
Some-fin fishy going on: The Cambridge’s canoe was followed by locals dressed as ‘sharks’. Solomon Islanders have traditionally worshipped the shark and when warriors went out on raiding parties to rival islanders, some of the tribesmen would usually swim alongside in shark costumes
The barefoot Royals: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived barefoot in Tavanipupu, Solomon Islands, during the latest leg of their South Pacific tour
Rough Ground: The Duchess of Cambridge chats with John Sullivan as she walks barefoot over some quite rough ground onTavanipupu Island
THE SOLOMON ISLANDS: A WELL KEPT SECRET PARADISE
They were the scene of fierce fighting between the Americans and Japanese during WWII before infighting broke out in the late 1990s. In 2007 they were struck by a major earthquake and subsequent tsunami.
It’s fair to say the Solomon Islands were in desperate need of this Royal boost.
Lying east of Papua New Guinea there are nearly 1,000 islands in all covering around 11,000 square miles.
They are still far from being a tourist destination, but some parts remain an undiscovered gem for divers and those looking for adventure. A wealth of coral reefs team with fish – and WWII wrecks – in the Central Province area, while to the west volcanoes bubble under the surface.
Tonight Kate and William are staying on the five star private island resort of Tavanipupu, an ideal honeymoon destination.
The island had been a coconut plantation in the 19th century before English interior decorator Dennis Bellote and his late partner Keith Paske bought it in the 1970s.
In 2010 the population of the Solomon Islands was just over half a million people. The majority are Christian but the worship of ancestors is still widely practised in village areas.
One of the ancestral beliefs is that the soul is re-incarnated in birds, reptiles or sharks. As such these creatures are held in high regard. Solomon Islanders have traditionally worshipped the shark and when warriors went out on raiding parties to rival islanders, some of the tribesmen would usually swim alongside in shark costumes.
Handicraft skills are also passed down through the generations as is the ability to play the pan pipes.
The Duke and Duchess have received nothing but a warm welcome from islanders during their tour of the South Pacific, so it’s hard to believe that up until the 1930s they were considered violent and dangerous head-hunting, cannibals who worshipped skulls.
The Islands remain at a steamy 27C (80F) throughout most of the year, but there is some respite from June to August with cooler temperatures. November to April sees more, frequent rain – and the occasional cyclone.
‘It’s not a huge house. It’s not Buckingham Palace by a long stretch,’ said Pamela Kimberly, co-owner of the island, who has spent $6 million buying and upgrading the resort in the past four years.
‘I really wanted them to feel like they had everything they need. The fridge is fully stocked, the finest champagne, fresh fruit platter, high-tech cappuccino machine… I had a bladeless fan system installed above their bed.’
But despite the decadent interior, the couple have been easy customers. ‘We’ve had all sorts of requests from VIPs,’ said Mrs Kimberley. ‘People who have wanted to bring private chefs, fly in furniture and so on. But the Duke and Duchess are so down to earth. They haven’t asked for one thing.’
Out on the pontoon jetty, William and Kate can expect the odd passerby. In the evening there are no motorboats – just people going by in their canoes and often they are singing.
They are also expected to go snorkelling before a breakfast of homemade bread, fruit platters and fresh juices to view the huge numbers of fish in the water including blue starfish, dugongs, and the occasional small reef shark.
Mrs Kimberly said:’ The water is pretty safe, though there are reef sharks, but they never come close.’
William and Kate had first journeyed by motor launch to the neighbouring island of Marapa, where they were given a traditional ceremonial welcome by men blowing conches and women standing in the water, splashing rhythmically to produce a drumming sound to attract sharks.
Solomon Islanders have traditionally worshipped the shark and when warriors went out on raiding parties to rival islanders, some of the tribesmen would usually swim alongside in shark costumes.
When the royal couple arrived, their boat was flanked by three warriors swimming beneath shark costumes constructed from a wire frame covered with black plastic.
William and Kate, who was wearing a navy blue Mulberry dress from its 2012 spring/summer collection, and matching navy Russell and Bromley wedges, stood watching eight bare-breasted women in grass skirts dancing in front of them before accepting the greetings of loin cloth-wearing village elders.
The couple were then decorated with beaded necklaces made of shell money. The colourful necklaces, worth up to £150 each, took three months to make, using romo shells, nut shells – and the teeth of dolphins found washed up on the shore.
The Duke was given his garlands by Marie-Claire, 13, and Amelina, 15, and the Duchess received hers from Gealyn, 17, and Batistina, 16.
As is traditional, the girls were bare-breasted, as were more than 30 other women who danced for them. The couple’s 15-minute visit had caused such excitement that people had walked barefoot for up to six hours through forest paths to get to Marau, which is around 60 miles from the capital.
Welcome dance: The couple were greeted by dancers on Tavanipupu
Best seat: The young Royals sit and watch locals perform during a visit to Tavanipupu Island
Address: A local addresses the young Royals after they arrived on Tavanipupu. Tonight the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will dine in private on the paradise island
The elders then asked William to unveil a new coconut tree, which the villagers will plant to commemorate the royal visit.
Then the couple, accompanied by six warriors and the local police chief, climbed into an ornately-decorated dugout war canoe and were rowed across the 100-yard channel dividing Marapa from Tavanipupu. Just as they climbed into the boats, the heavens opened in a brief tropical downpour.
William sat beside Kate, holding an umbrella over her for part of the journey, while a warrior at the front armed with a bow and arrow sang songs and the three accompanying ‘sharks’ patrolled the waters menacingly.
When they reached Tavanipupu, the couple were decorated with garlands, as pan pipers played and children danced.
Luxury: The couple will stay in a secluded £780-a-night thatched leaf bungalow with its own private jetty from where they can go sunbathing, snorkelling and canoe paddling
Offset: The beaded necklace given to the Duchess went perfectly with her navy Mulberry dress
Tradition: The couple had enjoyed watching a group of nine women perform a traditional water dance involving splashing themselves with water before setting off for the neighbouring islands
Water dance: The women performed as Kate and William made their way down their way to Marapa and Tavanipupu by boat and canoe
The laid back pair had arrived to the island barefoot before walking over quite rough ground.
They were then given fruit juice cocktails and shown to their room by Mrs Kimberly – ‘Just how to switch on the lights and aircon, that kind of thing,’ she said.
‘They have a butler at their call, but he will be on the other side of the gates, so they are totally alone once they are in there,’ said Mrs Kimberly.
‘It’s the perfect place for honeymooners… [and] they’re still in their honeymoon phase.’
A quick wave and they’re off: The Duke and Duchess head off by boat to Tavanipupu
Out in force: The Royal visit caused great excitement among the islanders, some had trekked up to six hours just to see Kate and Wills
Among those who were there to see them were, remarkably, a British couple who were stopping off on a round the world tour.
Bill and Sue Redgrove, from Maidstone, Kent, set off from Britain in their 40ft yacht Camomile four years ago, with a plan to spend ten years sailing round the world.
The couple, both aged 54, had no idea the Royal couple were on their way to Marau until locals told them about it a few days before.
On her own: Earlier in the day the Duchess had left William’s side to attend a Women’s Reception at the Leaf House, Commonwealth Youth South Pacific Centre
Family: Kate revealed how family life was very important to her especially now she was married during a half hour chat with about 40 women from the Young Women’s Parliamentary Group
For me? Kate had moved round the group, spending several minutes with each woman, telling them their cause was ‘important’
‘We couldn’t believe it when they told us,’ said Mrs Redgrove, who had brought the red ensign from their yacht to wave when the couple arrived.
Earlier in the day the Duchess had spoken of the importance of her family with various women’s groups on Honiara, capital of the Solomon Islands.
Kate revealed how family life was very important to her especially now she was married during a half hour chat with about 40 women from the Young Women’s Parliamentary Group which was formed a year ago to help address gender inequality in the country.
Newly-crowned: The Duchess, wearing a £180 bright yellow dress from Jaeger, proudly sports the decorative headpiece given to her by well-wishers
Crowning glory: The Duchess of Cambridge happily paraded her new headwear, given to her by well-wishers in Honiara and made from exotic fresh flowers
Kate had moved round the group, spending several minutes with each woman, telling them their cause was ‘important’.
The Duchess revealed to Judith Siota, President of the Solomon Islands Christian Association Federation for Women, that her family had become particularly important since she and William married last April.
Ms Siota said: ‘We told her all about the work that we do. She knows that the church group puts a lot of emphasis on family and she was interested.
‘She said that family life was very important to her especially now she’s married.’
She added: ‘There are lots of problems here, family violence against women is a big one and also child sexual exploitation. A lot of women’s groups are dealing with the issue of child abuse to young girls.
‘It means a lot to us she has come to support our causes.’
The group aims to get women’s voices heard in Parliament and also support them in issues like domestic violence and women’s health.
Heading into the rain: After calling on the Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister, the Duke and Duchess visited a cultural village in Honiara
Host of the session Kristina Sogavare made a speech as Kate arrived, telling the Duchess she was about to meet ‘very strong women who have made a difference in the Solomons’.
Earlier she said: ‘There are a lot of issues facing women here. There are cultural barriers, this is a male dominated society. Women are seen as daughters, mothers wives and sisters, not the decision-makers.
‘We are making some progress but it will take time.’
Emele Duituturange, from the Regional Assistance Mission in the Solomon Islands said Kate was asking how many women were employed in the civi service.
She said: ‘I was telling her women have jobs such as the secretaries rather than the ones making the decisions. There were 25 women who stood in the last elections but only one was elected.
‘I work as a gender adviser and part of that role is to promote gender equality. She told me the work we were doing was very important.’
Emma Garo, Deputy Chief Magistrate on the islands, told how Kate’s visit had given the women’s cause a huge boost.
She said: ‘She asked me how it was doing my job in a male dominated field. I said it was hard. Women here face many obstacles but her visit has empowered us.
Resplendent in yellow: Dressed in the bright yellow sleeves dress and her trusty beige LK Bennett heels, Kate cut a colourful figure
Royal welcome: Hundreds of people gathered to welcome the young couple as they toured the cultural centre during their nine day tour of the Far East
Display: The Duke listens intently while the Duchess smiles as a tribal war dance is performed in front of her
Pan pipe moods: At one hut, a group of traditionally dressed musicians from the Isabel Province played God Save The Queen on their pan pipes
It’s a bit like Morris dancing… The Duke shares a joke with his wife as they watch locals in Honiara perform during their visit
‘Her presence has motivated us further and also given encouragement, it’s a huge boost to our cause.’
Earlier the Duke and Duchess had visited a cultural centre where Kate was crowned with a decorative headpiece made from exotic frangipani and bougainvillea.
The Duchess beamed at the tribute as she and William were cheered by thousands of barefoot well-wishers in the Solomon Islands.
Once again the couple were greeted by fearsome island warriors singing war chants.The men were dressed in loin cloths, body paint and carried spears, while the women were bare-breasted and wore skirts made from tree bark with bracelets and necklaces from leaves.
Closer to home a tawdry Italian magazine owned by Silvio Berlusconi is to publish the largest number of images of the naked Kate yet.
Unapologetic editor Alfonso Signorini said ‘not even a direct call from the Queen’ would stop him printing the pictures in a special 26-page edition of Chi magazine under the headline ‘la Regina è nuda’ – the Queen naked, which is out today.
…But there’s always time for a quick joke: The young Royals share a joke during the tribal war dance
Pleasure to meet you: William listens intently as he and Kate chat to a tribal warrior at a cultural village in Honiara
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