Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Kate wears kimono-style dress in Singapore as she and William visit orchid created for Princess Diana which she never got to see

•The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William begin a nine day tour of south east Asia and the South Pacific
•The couple visited the Botanic Gardens where they had a hybrid orchid named after them
•Prince William and Kate spent a few minutes quietly viewing the Dendrobium Memoria Orchid named after Princess Diana

By Rebecca English In Singapore

..The Duchess of Cambridge paid homage to the East as she arrived with Prince William in exotic Singapore today - starting the couple's nine day tour of south east Asia and the South Pacific.

Kate was wearing a kimono-style pink dress featuring an orchid pattern by British designer Jenny Packham - an appropriate choice given that their first engagement was a trip to the world famous Botanic Gardens.

The couple received the special honour of having a pink and white hybrid orchid named for them - 15 years after Prince William's mother Diana was awarded the same privilege.

The Duke and Duchess spent a few minutes quietly viewing the delicate pure white Dendrobium Memoria Princess Diana orchid.

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Beautiful day: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge enjoying their first official engagement on their nine-day tour of Asia at the stunning Botanic Gardens in Singapore

Floral tribute: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge look at an orchid named after Prince William's mother Diana, Princess of Wales, during their first engagement in Singapore

The Princess had been delighted to have the exotic flower named after her and vowed to see it. But she was killed just two weeks before she could fly out.

Today the Dendrobium Memoria Princess Diana orchid finally got the royal seal of approval from her eldest son.

Somber William paid tribute to the pure white flower as he made the National Orchid Garden one of the couple's first stops of their Far East tour.

Standing in front of the 3ft plant in 36C temperatures, the prince said: 'It's beautiful... it's beautiful. Did she (Diana) ever come to Singapore?'

Heartfelt: The Duke of Cambridge described the orchid named after his mother as 'beautiful'

Scenic: The Royal couple both take some time out to enjoy the view

Poon Hong Yuen, CEO of the garden, told him she had never seem the plant. William responded: 'It's a shame... It's beautiful... Nice, very nice.'

After a moment of reflection with his wife, the couple viewed a new orchid planted for themselves.

The orchid is the national flower of Singapore and the VIP Orchid Garden is reserved for visiting Heads of State and international dignitaries.

Vanda William Catherine is a free-flowering orchid hybrid specially designed to honour their marriage.

William smiled and chuckled as he joked to Mr Poon that some of the colours of the purple spotted flower matched Kate's dress.

Tragic: Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed two weeks before she could fly out to view her orchid at the Botanic gardens

Touching tribute: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge viewed the Dendrobium Memoria Princess Diana Orchid when they visited the Singapore Botanic Gardens

William asked Mr Poon: 'Where will it go in the garden?' After being told it will join her mother's in the VIP area, he added: 'It's very kind. Thank you very much.'

The couple signed a certificate 'William' and 'Catherine' to formally name the orchid.

Founded in 1859 as a pleasure park, the breath-taking 74-hectare park now is now one of Singapore’s most famous attractions and home to the National Orchid Garden which houses more than 60,000 plants.

The couple also met a number of gardeners and scientists who help design the orchids.

Manager Alan Tan Chye Soon, 42, had been involved in preparations to welcome Diana before tragedy struck in 1997.

Stunning: The Duchess of Cambridge explores the beautiful surroundings of the Botanic gardens

Guided tour: Prince William and Kate were shown around the gardens by CEO of the National Parks Board Poon Hong Yuen

He said: 'It was so sad that she never saw it. It is one of our favourite orchids - and most popular.

'We were getting ready for her to come over when she died. It was like William and Kate are fulfilling her promise today.'

Briton Jason Wright, 29, of Fleet - who works at the garden - shared a joke with William.

'I told him Singapore was a city in a garden. Kate said they had noticed on the way. William added that 'it's a bit different from the M4.'

Describing the couple's reaction to the Diana orchid, Mr Poon added: 'They were impressed. He commented about the colour, saying it was a nice colour. I told them she did not have the chance to see it.

'He then commented that it seemed very well co-ordinated with Catherine's dress.'

Funny: The Duchess of Cambridge laughs during a ceremony naming an orchid hybrid in honour of her and Prince William at the National Orchid Garden in the Singapore Botanic Gardens

Special moment: The happy couple inspect the orchid that will bear their name

It was the first royal visit since the Queen visited the garden in 1972.

Despite crowds of onlookers pouring with sweat, suited William and Kate showed no sign of suffering in the heat.

The couple had only arrived in the country at Singapore's Changi airport at 2.50pm - half an hour later than expected, and headed straight to the gardens.

Despite her long 14-hour flight Kate looked perfectly groomed in the kimono-style pink dress with her hair styled by her personal hairdresser, hired by Prince Charles at a cost of £300 a day for the duration of the tour.

Uncanny: Prince William remarked that the colours of the hybrid orchid named after the couple matched Kate's dress

Jubilant: Kate seemed very happy during her trip to the Botanic Gardens and couldn't stop smiling

They arrived through the VIP complex of Changi airport, reserved for the visiting elite with lush floral displays and a striking water feature.

Before their arrival a Union flag was hoisted in the VIP car park, and assistants emerged carrying rucksacks, handbags, suit bags and a make-up case.

Following their visit to the Botanic Gardens, the couple arrived at Raffles Hotel where they will be staying for the duration of their three nights in Singapore. A crowd of around 200 people gathered outside the hotel to cheer their arrival.

Pretty in pink: The Vanda William Catherine Orchid named in honor of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and his wife Catherine

Finishing touch: The couple add the official name tag to the orchid

The Vanda William Catherine: The free-flowering orchid hybrid is meant to represent the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton

They were welcomed by the general manager, Pierre Jochem, and the hotel manager, Laurent Branover.

The Duchess was presented with a bunch of yellow, white and pink orchids by Lynn Choy, the daughter of Mrs Annie Choy, the hotel's director of marketing. 'They are beautiful, thank you,' said the Duchess, laughing along with the female staff in the greeting line-up who commented on the matching orchids on her dress.

The Duke of Cambridge told the welcome line up that it had been 'a very long flight, but we're so happy to be here'.

Making his mark: Prince Williams also signs the book after the naming ceremony of a hybrid orchid

Elegant: Kate's outfit for the occasion matched perfectly right down to the oriental flowers

Mrs Andrea Greybanks, the hotel's director of sales and marketing, who also welcomed the couple, said: 'I told her she looked beautiful and she thanked me. Prince William said that he was also very pleased to be following in his grandmother's footsteps by staying with us.' The Queen stayed at Raffles during her visit to Singapore in March 2006.

The hotel does not have a 'royal suite' and hotel staff would not comment on the couple's accommodation, though it is believed they will be staying in one of Raffles' palatial suites.

Raffles opened in 1887 and was named after Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore. Previous guests include Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner and Rudyard Kipling.

Just landed: Britain's Prince William looks on as his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, receives flowers upon their arrival at the VIP terminal of Changi International Airport in Singapore

Delighted: The Duchess of Cambridge being presented with a huge bouquet of yellow flowers by the wife, Sadiah Bte Shahal, of the Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Defence Maliki Osman

After a brief rest at Raffles for a shower and change, the couple headed off to The Istana, the official residence of the President of the Republic of Singapore, originally built by the British Colonial Government to house its governors.

Stepping out of their chauffeur driven car, Kate looked the picture of elegance in a white and lilac floral patterned dress by Singaporean-born designer Prabul Gurung.

The designer, who was raised in Nepal, has a long list of celebrity clients including Michelle Obama and Sarah Jessica Parker.

The Spring/Summer 2012 dress worn by Kate is currently reduced from £1,770 to £710 and is described as 'largely purple and cream Rorschach floral printed wool-silk dress from Prabal Gurung.

'Bateau neck. V-back leads into a concealed zip. Three-quarter-length sleeves. Full silk lining'.

William, who was still in a lounge suit stood and watched a Guard of Honour clad in pristine white pressed uniforms and red caps before inspecting the troops.

Popular: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and his wife Catherine are greeted by cheering crowd as they arrived at the Raffles Hotel

Going all out: The Duchess of Cambridge receives more flowers as she arrives at Raffles Hotel

Following the inspection of the guard of honour, William and Kate were escorted into the Istana and up to the West Drawing Room at the Istana by president Tony Tan and his wife Mary.

As Kate walked in, she was heard to tell Mrs Tan it was ‘very impressive’ and the couple then posed for official photographs

On a side table in the West Drawing Room were a set of signed photographs of the Prince of Wales (dated 1979), separate ones of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh (from 2005) and the Queen, Philip and Anne from 1972.

The couple will add to that collection as they are leaving a signed portrait of themselves as official gifts for the President and the Prime Minister.

Surprise: The Duchess of Cambridge looks at the crowds as she arrives with Prince William at the famous Raffles Hotel

Charming: Catherine smiles as she talks to staff at the hotel named after Sir Stamford Raffles

After spending about 15 minutes with the President, the couple signed the visitors book and moved across to the East Drawing Room for a meeting with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching.

As they posed for pictures, and photographers asked for them to repeat the shaking hands, Kate allowed herself a short giggle.

After taking their seats, William spoke about their flight which was 'very, very comfortable' and, looking around the grand, and mercifully cool, room, said, 'and you have a good temperature here as well'.

To the Prime Minister's left his wife shot broad smiles across at Kate, while behind them, aides took notes of the conversation.

Outfit change: The Duchess changed into another gown decorated with floral patterns for a dinner at the President of Singapore's residence

Spot on: Kate looked the picture of elegance wearing a white and lilac floral patterned dress by Singaporean-born designer Prabul Gurung at a welcoming ceremony at the Istana Presidential Palace

The meeting lasted about 20 minutes, when the couple and president and Mrs Tan then descended the stairs and entered the chandelier-bedecked Reception Room for a pre-dinner drinks.

The couple’s private secretary, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, said of their tour: ‘The destinations were chosen by The Queen for The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, which underlines the importance that Her Majesty attaches to these significant nations in South East Asia, and their relationship to the United Kingdom, and to two of Her Majesty’s Realms in the South Pacific.

‘The aim of this Tour is to celebrate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The Duke and Duchess will use the Tour to pay tribute through what they do and say, and who they meet, to The Queen’s lifetime of dedication to the mix of peoples and cultures that make up all of Her Majesty’s Realms and the Commonwealth.

Proud: Kate watches on as Prince William walks on to a podium during the official state welcoming ceremony in Singapore

Impeccable: The Duchess pairs her purple and white dress with black heels and a matching black clutch bag

‘The Tour will comprise a mixture of formal and informal moments which reflect these aims and The Duke and Duchess’s characters and interests specifically.’

Singapore gained independence from Britain in 1963 and joined the Federation of Malaysia, but became a separate nation two years later.

Now one of south-east Asia’s most hi-tech, wealthy city-states – crammed with skyscrapers and shopping malls - it is also known for its strict social controls.

Standing to attention: Prince William talks to a guard during a welcoming ceremony at the Istana Presidential Palace in Singapore

Formal: Prince William is followed by Singapore's President Tony Tan, left, as they arrive at the palace for a state welcome

The penalty for drugs trafficking is death, dropping litter is punishable with a £500 fine and it is against the law to even bring chewing or bubble gum into the country for personal consumption.

Offences including ‘outrage of modesty’ and over-staying of a travel visa can still be punished by lashes using a rattan cane.

On Thursday they will fly onto Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, another former colony, before taking in Borneo and two realms in the South Pacific where the British monarch is still head of state, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

source: dailymail

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