Monday, April 9, 2012

Reunited on the slopes: William and Kate share an intimate family holiday after missing Valentine's Day while apart for six weeks

By Holly Thomas

The pair spent long six weeks apart, missing their first Valentine's Day as a married couple while the Prince was flying a helicopter for the RAF in the Falklands.

But it looks as though Prince William has more than made up for his absence to the Duchess of Cambridge, as the pair were reunited with a much-needed holiday in the renowned Trois Vallees ski resort.

The couple took to the slopes accompanied by Kate's mother and father Carole and Michael, and her brother James and sister Pippa.

Together again at last: Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge enjoyed a week away at the renowned Trois Vallees ski resort

Romantic escape: Kate and William were reunited at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire shortly before leaving for France

On duty: The Royal couple spent six weeks apart while William flew an RAF helicopter in the Falklands

The trip was reportedly a treat from Kate's parents, as the Royal couple's budget for trips is 'quite small', according to a source.

Pippa was accompanied by romantic interest Earl Percy.

Miss Middleton and Mr Percy dated while at Edinburgh University and have been friends for nearly ten years.

Percy and William appeared to get on famously, and enjoyed a bit of male bonding on the ski lift.

Time to talk: Kate must have had a lot to update Will on having recently represented the Royal Family alone for the first time

Squeezed in: Carole, Will, Kate, and James Middleton managed to fit onto the lift together

The group appeared to have a fantastic time away together, and pictures of the family show them all mixing easily with one another.

Kate and William were reunited at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire shortly before leaving for France.

The pair holidayed at the same resort with the Middletons two years ago, and it’s only two months since the Prince enjoyed a break with his in-laws in Mustique.

A fellow skier said: ‘They were sitting all together in an alpine restaurant half way up the mountain and looked very happy and relaxed.’

That's mine! Carole Middleton borrowed Kate's skiing hat for the slopes- but Kate didn't appear to mind

Held her own: Kate shone in William's absence as she undertook various public duties as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, including two outings with the Queen who appeared visibly delighted with her youthful companion

However, the question remains as to why Prince William should be so keen to holiday with his in-laws, after so long away from his wife whom he married just under a year ago.

A source told the Mail: ‘He genuinely enjoys the company of his parents-in-law. They are a very down-to-earth couple and he can be himself with them.'

‘It is the family atmosphere he never really had when he was growing up.’

Carole and Michael also like going on holiday with William and Kate, not least because they can take advantage of the security and protection of William’s police bodyguards, something they would have to do without if they were skiing by themselves.

On form: A ski resort source complimented Kate on her skiing prowess

At ease: William is said to enjoy his time with the Middletons because he feels he can be himself around them

The Middletons have reportedly been looking at chalets to buy in the Trois Vallees.

Pippa also had a rather more romantic time on holiday than might be expected, as she was accompanied by Earl Percy for the family ski trip.

The pair are said to be enjoying a blossoming relationship.

The French excursion will have been the perfect opportunity for Kate and Pippa to compare notes on their romances.

Modest taste: William and Kate flew with budget airline easyJet, and went through all the normal check-in procedures

Male bonding: Prince William enjoyed a chat on the ski lift with Earl Percy, who accompanied Pippa Middleton on the holiday

The sisters remain very close, and the Duchess is said to frequently makes the trip to her old flat for lunch with her younger sibling.

‘Kate drives over and parks outside and brings her two security guards with her,’ says a pal. ‘Pippa likes to have her sister over.’

The Royal couple have maintained their penchant for low-key travel, and despite their vast wealth, chose to fly home with the budget airline EasyJet.

Old friends: Pippa and Earl Percy have known each other for 10 years, and dated briefly while at Edinburgh University

Romance blossoming? The pair are said to have become closer over the past few months

The pair flew from Geneva to Manchester last Sunday on the low-cost airline after their relaxing break on the slopes.

Flight prices from Geneva to Manchester vary between £60 and £300 depending how far in advance you book.

At the end of their trip, according to the Daily Express, the pair boarded the aircraft with their police protection officers before the rest of the passengers.

Clambering up: Kate was ahead of the boys as they made their way up the hill

EasyJet customers were left stunned when they entered the cabin and discovered they would be sitting next to the Royal couple.

Delighted passengers told of their surprise on the social website Twitter, with one flyer Chris Nash posting on the site: 'Still can’t believe how close I was to Will and Kate.'

William and Kate then left the airport in his Range Rover after the flight - heading home to their cottage in North Wales.

The couple are ever conscious of their public image with regard to their wealth.

Staying close: Despite their busy schedules Kate and Pippa still find time to chat frequently

Last year the ski-mad couple reportedly cancelled a planned trip to the slopes over fears it would not be appropriate in recession-hit times.

That said, the twosome do indulge in the occasional splurge.

According to the Sun, Kate sat for a £25,000 canvas by royal artist Nicky Philipps during Will's absence in the Falklands.

A source told the paper: 'Most couples wouldn’t think a picture of a loved one would be a great present, but this is a big deal.'

'It’s the first portrait Kate has sat for, which is a huge thing for the royals.'

Racing to the bottom? Pippa looked as though she might be getting a little competitive

The Duchess is said to have visited the painter’s London studio in secret four times.

Prince Charles is apparently lending a hand by covering the cost of the present.

A Royal spokesman confirmed to The Sun that a 'privately commissioned painting' has been completed.

Kate presented a special challenge for Nina it seems.

She said: 'Good-looking people are always difficult because they have symmetrical faces.'

'It is unlikely you will do them justice.'

During William's time in the Falklands his wife shone as she undertook various public duties as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, including two outings with the Queen who appeared visibly delighted with her youthful companion. She also delivered her first speech.

Their treat: The Middletons reportedly paid for the holiday, since Kate and Will's budget for getaways is quite small



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