Sunday, September 16, 2012

It's Solomon Islands style for William and Kate as they ditch their designer gear and slip into something more comfortable

•Kate makes last minute-change of wardrobe ahead of banquet by wearing strapless dress given to her by the couple's hosts

By Rebecca English, Royal Correspondent

The Duchess of Cambridge had a last-minute change of wardrobe when she ditched plans to wear to the banquet a dress she had brought from London and chose instead one that she had just been given by her Solomon Islands hosts.

She made the switch just half an hour before the banquet when she walked into her room at the hotel in Honiara and discovered that the government had left her a strapless dress with a bright pink and orange batik design.

'She tried it on, she loved it and she is wearing it,” said a royal aide. The dress came from a shop called Island Print.

Stylish: William and Kate slipped into some more comfortable ahead of a banquet in the Solomon Islands

VIP treatment: The Royal couple were attending a reception hosted by Governor-General Frank Kabui

In keeping with island tradition the Duke also wore a colourful shirt. His also was a gift from his hosts – but contrast with his wife he knew it was coming because the Solomon Islands had gone so far as to check his size in advance.

The Duke was clearly taken with his new blue shirt. In a formal visit on the Governor-General, Sir Frank Kabui, the Duke told him: 'I have my shirt on. What do you think? Looks OK?'

Glamour girls: Kate chats to Lady Grace Kabui, wife of the Governor-General of the Solomon Islands

Distinguished guests: The Duke and Duchess pose for a photo with their host, Governor-General Frank Kabui

New look: The colorful outfits worn by the Duke and Duchess were a contrast the formal gear worn earlier

The couple were also obviously struck by the warmth and enthusiasm of their welcome to Honiara. The Duke told Sir Frank that there had been 'a lot of energy, a lot of screaming… it was great.'

The Duchess told the Governor-General’s wife Lady Grace: 'It was a beautiful service earlier. All the singing – it was lovely.'

As a sign of what a good mood the couple were in, as the couple joined the diners at the island feast they agreed to pose for pictures for the waiting British press photographers. 'As you asked so nicely,' said the Duke, 'of course.'

During the dinner the couple were entertained by musicians including a choir and the Haguelu Pan Pipers, who performed on a stage clad in grass skirts with white body paint and beads around their heads.

In his speech the Duke tried his hand at pidgin English. 'Mifala barava Tagio tumas,' he said – 'We thank you very, very much.'

Grand entrance: Kate and William arrive wearing traditional island clothing supplied by their hosts

Fit for a king: The Duke and Duchess with the Governor-General at his residence

Public speaking: William addresses guests at the state banquet in Honiara

Describing their visit as 'a great thrill'. He said: “This land is the most beautiful place imaginable, and the people of the Solomon islands are amongst the most gracious and friendly we have ever met. The Queen told us this would be so, and as with so much else in her long reign, Her Majesty was absolutely right.

'Catherine and I were overwhelmed with the warmth of the reception we received this afternoon. Our expectations were pretty high after what the Queen had told us, but nothing had prepared us for the welcome we received.'

Dressed up: Kate was said to love the strapless dress with pink and orange batik design

Wardrobe change: Kate arrived wearing an £820 John Saunders dress and bespoke cocktail hat by Jane Taylor



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