With the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge currently fulfilling their royal duties overseas, we thought we’d take a look back at their previous public outings abroad. Since their marriage in April 2011, William and Kate – or rather, Catherine, as we now call her – have been tasked with representing the Queen overseas in the Commonwealth nations. The Commonwealth is a voluntary collection of nations around the world, many of which have historic ties to the British Empire. The Queen is the head of the Commonwealth but with her advanced age she has passed her Commonwealth duties to other members of the Royal family. And who better to carry out these engagements than everyone’s favourite royals, William and Kate!
These visits are a chance for Commonwealth nations to connect with their ties to the monarchy, be recognised on a global stage and associate with the glitz and glamour of the young royals. For their part, the Duke and Duchess are expected to visit notable sites of interest in the community, from charity endeavours to places of historical significance and to partake in the culture of their host nation. From indigenous customs to black tie balls, William and Kate are ready for any occasion, as are a gang of photographers, eager to catch their every move.
Currently the Duke and Duchess are in New Zealand where they’ve been sampling the local wine, sailing and showing off their adorable son Prince George. While William may be now well used to royal engagements, for Catherine they’re still a new phenomenon. But, as she will one day be the wife of the King, it’s time she got some practice in. Kate and Wills are fulfilling the duties of their roles on a regular basis in the UK, but it’s representing the Queen on extended visits overseas when we really see the couple come into their own. In tribute to the couple of the moment, we’re reviewing their 5 most spectacular overseas visits to date. Expect immaculate outfits, unending photo calls and even – dare we say it – a bad hair day!
5. United States: 2011
The first overseas tour the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge ever took was only a few short months after their marriage in 2011. The pair embarked on a tour of North America and naturally dropped in on the United States to pay a visit. There, the royals managed to do what we’d all dream of an American trip; hobnob with the rich and famous and meet a load of celebs. Kate and William travelled to California where they seemed to meet everyone from actress Reese Witherspoon, to singer Jennifer Lopez (and her mom!) and of course their old pal, footballer David Beckham. William and Kate attended a BAFTA event in Los Angeles as well as a garden party hosted by the British consulate general to the country. It wasn’t all glamour however, as the Royals place a great value on the charitable work being done in each region they visit. For their part, Kate and William visited an inner-city arts club in one of the poorest parts of Los Angeles, Skid Row. The royal couple watched performances at the club and left their handprints in clay in memory of the visit.
4. Canada: 2011
William and Kate’s trip to California may have received plenty of press attention, but it was Canada that was the real focus of their North American tour. As this was their first official tour as a married couple, this was the first official trip Kate – or rather Her Royal Highness Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge, as she became after her marriage – made as a royal. As such, she borrowed jewels from the Queen’s personal collection to befit the event, including a diamond-encrusted brooch in the shape of Canada’s national emblem, the maple leaf. The broach was first worn by the Queen she visited Canada in 1951.
We did say that the royals get to sample the local culture and traditions of their host nation and the trip to Canada provided some amusing photos of the action: while in Calgary, Alberta, William and Kate watched a rodeo in full swing and even dressed for the occasion. William pulled out his trusty green plaid shirt while Catherine sported a look that was somewhere between cowgirl and little house on the prairie. And that was before the royal couple were presented with some fetching rodeo-style wide-brimmed hats!
3. Malaysia: 2012
2012 was the year of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, marking 60 years of her reign. Celebrations took place throughout the United Kingdom and further afield in the Commonwealth, and William and Kate were not going to miss out on an opportunity to get some exotic royal engagements thrown their way. The trip by the Duke and Duchess to Malaysia was part of a longer tour of South East Asia and the Far East, which also took in the Solomon Islands, Singapore and the Solomon Islands. While in Malaysia, Kate and William visited the Assyakirin Mosque in Kuala Lumpur – the Duchess’ first ever visit to a mosque. As well as that, the couple dropped in on the British High Commission for a spot of tea, where a special Diamond Jubilee blend was brewed just for the occasion. To top it all off, the couple were guests at the Istana Negara Palace in Kuala Lumpur, home to his Majesty the Yang-di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia. The Duchess wore a white Alexander McQueen gown that was embroidered with a pattern of the hibiscus flower, the national emblem of Malaysia. The trip to Malaysia and nearby Singapore took place around the same time that photos of the Duchess sunbathing topless were published, but that scandal was soon replaced by another during the next trip…
2. The Solomon Islands: 2012
…Kate had a bad hair day! No, we’re not joking, nor are we being melodramatic; this truly was a global news story. There had been signs that the Duchess of Cambridge may be veering into bad hair day territory when she touched down in the humid air of Singapore, but it was in the Solomon Islands that things really came to a head. The humid weather along with the Duke and Duchess taking part in ceremonial dances left Kate’s hair, well, frizzy.
As anyone who has spent any period of time in humid weather – say, New York in the summer (or your writer’s native Ireland at almost any time of the year) – will tell you, humidity brings out the frizz. Kate’s much-discussed locks were no longer curled and primped to perfection but instead she look like most British people do on holiday – hot, sun burnt, and a little perplexed by the goings on around her. William on the other hand showed just how much of a pro he is at such royal engagements and had no problem getting into the swing of things with the islanders. The future king was photographed in ceremonial floral necklaces and headdresses and was snapped in the traditional grass skirts on the remote island of Tuvalu.
1. Australia and New Zealand: 2014
Of course the number one spot has to go to the tour the Duke and Duchess are currently undertaking, that of Australia and New Zealand. William is no stranger to these parts, most recently visiting in 2011 before his marriage to Catherine. There he met with those affected by the earthquakes in the New Zealand city of Christchurch as well as victims of flooding and forest fires in the Australian areas of Queensland and Victoria. As a child, too, William visited these nations with his parents Prince Charles and Princess Diana, but these trips are Catherine’s first to the region.
The visit is winding down and so far we’ve seen the royal couple try their hand at cricket, be greeted by Maori dance on arrival to New Zealand, sample the local wine, and even take a thrill-seeking boat ride down the Shotover River in southern New Zealand. We also saw the royal couple don their glad rags as they unveiled a portrait of the Queen in the capital city of Wellington and Kate, keeping her host nation in mind, wore a black gown embroidered with the national emblem of New Zealand, the fern.