Topless, so what? Kate gets the giggles as she is greeted by bare-chested tribal women in Solomon Islands on Royal tour
- 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
By REBECCA ENGLISH, ROYAL CORRESPONDENT in the SOLOMON ISLANDS
PUBLISHED: 04:47 GMT, 17 September 2012 | UPDATED: 23:51 GMT, 17 September 2012
- If she had been hoping to put thoughts of the topless furore behind her, Kate didn’t have a chance yesterday.
As she arrived at the tiny village of Marau on the Solomon Islands, she was greeted with a line-up of bare-breasted dancers.
And she burst into giggles as the smiling women in grass skirts presented her and William with shell necklaces.
Click here to watch video of Kate getting the giggles…
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
William did his best to discreetly avert his eyes but failed spectacularly as he bent his head to receive the necklace.
The pair watched as 30 bare-chested women danced in front of them before garlanding them with necklaces made of shell ‘money’ and the teeth of dolphins found washed up on the shore.
After all the anxiety of the last few days, there will be no chance that Kate’s tempted to try sunbathing au naturel again soon. Not that the locals would bat an eyelid.
‘They don’t like you to show your legs – people use a sarong – but they don’t mind if you show your “sou-sous”,’ said Pamela Kimberley, co-owner of the island of Tavanipupu, where William and Kate were enjoying a precious few hours of privacy last night, which included dinner served by an Irish chef.
Visitors are welcome to wear ‘anything or nothing’, she said. ‘We don’t care what they do. There is only one rule: no rules.’
The couple made their way to Tavanipupu by dugout canoe after a busy day meeting spear-carrying painted tribesmen and women’s groups.
They were spending last night in a thatched leaf bungalow, one of only eight on the palm-fringed island.
Their private sanctuary has a bed carved out of bamboo and an outdoor shower. It also has its own jetty, where, after walking barefoot to their room with tropical fruit cocktails in their hands, the royal couple were expected to dine alone out under the stars, beneath a muslin canopy illuminated by lanterns.
On chef Paul Carr’s menu was 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 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.
Royal entrance: Kate steps off the plane for the next leg of her and William’s South Pacific tour
‘It’s the perfect place for honeymooners… and they’re still in their honeymoon phase,’ Mrs Kimberley said. ‘We’ve had all sorts of requests from VIPs,’ she added.
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‘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.’
Today the couple depart for Tuvalu, one of the most remote islands on earth, on the last leg of their tour.
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
THE SOLOMON ISLANDS: A WELL KEPT SECRET PARADISE
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.
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.
‘It’s not a huge house. It’s not Buckingham Palace by a long stretch,’ said Mrs 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.’
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.
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.
Offset: The beaded necklace given to the Duchess went perfectly with her navy Mulberry dress
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.
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.
‘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.
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.
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
‘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 now.
Pleasure to meet you: William listens intently as he and Kate chat to a tribal warrior at a cultural village in Honiara
Last night royal aides were desperately trying to establish if an 11th-hour injunction could be sought against publication of the photographs.
William and Kate may have to endure further distress as it emerged that 200 pictures of the Duchess were taken as she sunbathed during a holiday in France.
Publications in the US, Germany and Australia were understood to be considering printing pictures.
The royal couple had started their day by calling on the Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister and his cabinet and were given a traditional necklace by the politician.
Gordon Darcy Lilo warmly welcomed the royals to the government building before presenting them with the gifts bearing their names – Prince William and Princess Kate.
Looks painful: The Duke appears to wince as the dancers mock spear their enemy during the display
Made of tiny coloured sea shells woven together they formed a piece of jewellery that resembled a mayor’s chain of office. As the Prime Minister placed the gifts around their necks the Duchess said ‘that’s very smart,’ and the Duke replied ‘it is smart’.
Speaking about the presents the Solomon Islands’ leader told the royals: ‘That will show that the whole of this country is very much part of you.’ And when the trio posed for a picture the politician joked that the photograph would allow the Queen ‘to see you’re here,’ and the Duke joked ‘checking up on us.’
The group moved to the cabinet room where the ministers were arranged along one side of a huge table waiting to meet the royal couple who then chatted to each person in turn.
Before leaving William took a seat at the head of the table for a group photograph flanked by the Prime Minister and Kate with the ministers behind.The Duke made the group laugh by banging the table with his hand and saying ‘where’s the agenda?
They then moved to The Festival Village in the capital Honiara, which boasted nine thatched huts each featuring singers, dancers and handicrafts from the provinces that make up the Solomon Islands, 900 miles east of Papua New Guinea.
The dances on display included the vevei, a clapping dance which denotes war or sacrifice, the vevua, a celebratory fan dance and the levu, which is a ceremonial dance performed when ‘big men’ or important guests come to the village.
At one hut, a group of traditionally dressed musicians from the Isabel Province played God Save The Queen on their pan pipes, surely one of the most beautiful renditions of the national anthem the couple have ever heard.
As is often in the tropics, a sudden downpour occurred as the couple walked around, with staff hurriedly holding umbrellas over the Duke and Duchess.
At the Temotu Hut the Pele Dance Group from the Reef Islands danced up to the Duchess, but then scuttled back crippled with shyness.
The Duke turned to his wife and said: ‘Look, they have gone all shy.’
The couple then split with the Duke going on to make a speech to a Commonwealth Youth Conference, while Kate met a group of women and young girls all working to highlight inequality in Melenesian society, where there is a distinct lack of female health facilities and domestic violence can be common.
As she walked in to the open-sided hut, Kate was taken by a group of nine young girls, again one from each province, clad in their regional dress.
She asked Leonie Palmer, 17, from Makira what her necklace was made from and looked slightly surprised when the girl told her it was dolphin’s teeth.
‘We use them for bartering for food and other things,’ she explained.
‘We only wear these necklaces on the most important of occasions.’
PRINCE IN PENALTY HEARTACHE
The Prince proved he was a true Englishman as he suffered penalty heartache – against a 13-year-old boy.
The Duke joined in a kickabout after telling localSolomon Islanders they should support Aston Villa.
Lining up to take his first shot as hundreds of locals looked on, William said: ‘this could go just about anywhere’.
He tucked his first penalty into the bottom right corner – but then quipped: ‘here we go again’ as two shots were saved by young Philemon Fatai. Smiling Philemon said afterwards: ‘He’s good – but not as good as me.’
The prince was handed a cap and a football by the island’s academy football team, youngsters between 6 and 12 into the sport.
William tried the hat on, saying: ‘First time a baseball cap and a suit. Excellent.’
The prince told one young footballer he should support Aston Villa – before revealing his wife Kate is ‘not so keen on the football’.
At the end of the meeting Kate was handed a beautifully decorated cake to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, which she was told would be sent on to their hotel for the night so that she and William could try a bit.
‘It smells delicious,’ she said.
‘How long did you take to make it. Twelve hours? Wow. It is amazing.’
She was also handed gifts of books and beaded pots as well as beautiful hand carved canoe by brother and sister Hubert and Vasiti Devisi, aged ten and seven.
The Duke gave a speech to 40 young people involved in a Commonwealth Pacific Youth Leadership and Integrity Conference as part of a project to engage and empower young people ages 15-29.
He said: ‘I find it inspirational that young people like you, coming from all over the South Pacific, have chosen to become involved with the Commonwealth. We are its heirs and successors.
‘We must take on the responsibility, the mantle of leadership for the future. I applaud you for being here, and I wish you well in your work in Honiara over these days.
‘What you are doing, and the friendships that you make, are critical for your future as young leaders, both in your own countries and in the global family that is the Commonwealth.’
The Duke also presented six young people with Gold Duke of Edinburgh awards: Bryan Anga, Hudson Oeta, Harry James Olikwailafa, Ray Richard, Ashley Watson from Solomon Islands and Rebecca Solomon from Vanuatu.
Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP) Regional Director, Pacific, Afu Billy said: ‘It is an honour to host the Duke and Duchess with us at the start of the Commonwealth Pacific Youth Leadership and Integrity Conference.
‘The Royal couple are an inspiration to young people in the Commonwealth. We are delighted about the Duke of Cambridge’s comments that he has been inspired by the young leaders he met in Honiara.’
The Duke of Cambridge also paid tribute to the value of the Commonwealth as he commented: ‘We are, more than ever before, a global community.
‘The Commonwealth reminds us of what we have in common, what our responsibilities to one another are, without this ability to cross the boundaries of nationhood, race and creed, humanity in the future would find it very much harder to advance toward greater harmony and sustainable co-existence.’
Afterwards the Duke and Duchess met some of the last survivors of the undercover war against the Japanese in the Pacific.
Coastwatchers were the Allied intelligence operatives who were stationed in remote Pacific islands during the Second World War to spy on Japanese troop and ship movements. They were helped by Solomon Scouts, locals who hid in the jungle and risked their lives to feed information to the Coastwatchers.
In a ceremony at the memorial to the Coastwatchers and Solomon Scouts in the capital Honiara, the couple met Alfred Bisili, 89, who spent between 1942 and 1943 passing on information about the Japanese to Donald Kennedy, a New Zealander who was one of the most successful Coastwatchers of the war.
Mr Bisili said: ‘We had to give information about what the Japanese were doing, where were their pillboxes, their ammunition, the petrol for their planes and all this. The Coastwatchers had the radio to contact the Americans when we told them that the Japanese were somewhere, and they notified the Americans so they could bomb them.
‘If it was not for the Solomon Scouts and the Coastwatchers, the Allies would not have won the war. The Japanese were very smart.’
The Japanese were unable to find the Solomon Scouts ‘because we could sneak around like a water frog,’ he said. ‘We did not wear shoes, so we could not walk on the sand because the Japanese would see our footprints. We had to walk on the rocks.
‘It was very dangerous. If they found us in an area where we were not supposed to be, they could chop your neck off. They had no mercy.’
The memorial bears the words of Admiral Bill Halsey of the US Navy praising the role of the Coastwatchers in one of the decisive battles of the war. ‘The Coastwatchers saved Guadalcanal and Guadalcanal saved the Pacific.’
Before meeting the veterans the Duchess was given a bunch of Princess Diana orchids by two eight-year-old girls, Rosie Seda and Maya Porras.
The couple depart for Tuvalu, one of the most remote islands on earth, tomorrow on the last leg of their Diamond Jubilee tour.