Saturday, 20 September 2014

Being Mr Cambridge

It was billed as one of the royal events of the year but when its star had to pull out due to ill health, there's no doubting the sighs of disappointment that followed. And now it has turned into a high profile but not top billing royal engagement. The visit by the Duke of Cambridge to Malta to take part in celebrations marking the country's fiftieth anniversary of independence is attracting lots of attention - but not nearly as much as the same trip would have received if Kate had been there as planned.  This was meant to be the Duchess of Cambridge's first solo overseas tour but morning sickness meant William had to step in at the last minute as doctors advised her not to travel.  And while the reception is warm, there's not the buzz there might be for the duchess.  William, on arrival in Valletta, is learning what it's like being Mr Cambridge.

The Duke of Cambridge meets the daughters of the Prime Minister of Malta
(photo @TelevisionMalta Twitter)

The Duke of Cambridge apologised several times that it was him who had ended up representing the Queen on this important visit and not his wife.  The first engagement was a meeting with the President of Malta, Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, at her official residence which will also be William's home for the two days he is on the island.  And when the president said she hoped that the prince would return with his wife, Prince George and their new baby the Duke of Cambridge told her that the island might not survive his eldest son who is a 'bit of a tearaway'. There was also a chance for a traditional royal act as William planted a tree in the gardens of San Anton's Palace.

The Duke of Cambridge meets the President of Malta
(@TelevisionMalta Twitter)

Prince George got plenty of presents on day one of dad's tour. And one of the most high profile was a grey teddy presented to the duke by the daughters of Malta's Prime Minister. Etoile and Soleil also gave William some flowers before he went in for an audience with their dad, Dr Joseph Muscat, and mum, Michelle.  As the afternoon sun began to sink in the sky, the duke moved to St George's Square in Valletta where he saw some of the nation's history brought to life during the In Guardia Parade.

Some of the historical re-enactment watched by the Duke of Cambridge and shared by Clarence House on its Instagram page

There was more history on the agenda as Prince William paid a visit to the National Library where he saw a selection of some of documents kept there including letters from George I and Henry VIII and the original citation by which the duke's great grandfather, George VI, awarded the George Cross to the island in World War Two.

The Duke of Cambridge at the National Library in Valletta
(photo @Clarence House Twitter)

But what everyone really wanted to know what how Kate was getting on and as he greeted crowds outside the library, William told them that she was 'so-so'.  The Duchess of Cambridge is thought to be around eight weeks pregnant and is still suffering from the effects of severe morning sickness.

The Duke of Cambridge greets crowds outside the National Library in Valletta
(photo @Clarence House Twitter)

The duchess is said to be very disappointed not to get the chance to represent the Queen on such a high profile visit.  Malta has a particular significance for the Queen as she spent time living there between 1949 and 1951 when Prince Philip was stationed there with the Royal Navy. And while the crowds have been keen to see the future king, some did say they were disappointed not to get a glimpse of Kate.  William's last engagement of the day was at Upper Barakka Gardens where he took part in special celebrations for the island's fiftieth anniversary.

The Duke of Cambridge arrives at Upper Barrakka Gardens 
(@Clarence House Twitter)

The second day of the tour is just as packed with engagements and by then everyone will have got used to William being on duty rather than Kate. But this trip has confirmed to William, and to everyone else, what they probably already knew. When it comes to the Cambridges, it's the lady of the house that everyone wants to see.

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