Orchids for Kate – and Diana: Floral tributes get Far East tour off to emotional start
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 themPrince William and Kate spent a few minutes quietly viewing the Dendrobium Memoria Orchid named after Princess DianaKate sparks speculation after only drinking water during dinner at the Singapore Presidential palace
12:02 GMT, 12 September 2012
Naming an orchid after you is one of the greatest honours the people of Singapore can bestow. So it was a thoughtful touch for the Duchess of Cambridge to return the gesture yesterday, with her stunning hand-painted silk dress.
Arriving at the island’s Botanical Gardens, where she and her husband were to see the newly created ‘Vanda William Catherine’ for the first time, all eyes were drawn to Kate and her exquisite pastel-pink kimono-style dress.
The dress, made for her by British designer Jenny Packham, was covered with tiny orchids which, the Mail can reveal, took a team of skilled artists at Chelsea firm De Gournay eight weeks to complete. ‘She looked beautiful and we are all very proud,’ the team at Packham declared.
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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 Duke and Duchess have embarked on a
nine-day tour of South-East Asia and the South Pacific to mark the
Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
They will spend three days in Singapore before
flying to Kuala Lumpur in Malysia, then Borneo before going on by
private jet to the Solomon and Islands and remote Tuvalu, both of which
still proudly boast the Queen as head of state.
After arriving in Singapore, there was
no time to get over their 14-hour flight as they were immediately
whisked off to the gardens.
There, the Duke and Duchess were shown
a white orchid named after William’s late mother. Diana, Princess of
Wales had been delighted to have the flower named in her honour, but she
died in a Paris car crash just two weeks before she was due to fly out
to see it.
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
Yesterday, the Dendrobium Memoria Princess Diana orchid was finally given the royal seal of approval.
‘It’s beautiful,’ William murmured. ‘Did she ever come to Singapore’
When Poon Hong Yuen, CEO of the garden, explained the tragic story, the prince replied: ‘It’s a shame . . . it’s beautiful.’
But he couldn’t resist cracking a joke
when he saw his own orchid — a free-flowering hybrid whose white petals
are dotted with leopard-print purple spots — saying it matched his
In the evening there were more flowers
for Kate as she donned another floral dress, in white and lilac, for a
state dinner at the Istana — or palace — as a guest of the country’s
At the palace, William gave his first
speech of the tour in which he praised the Queen’s ‘exceptional
dedication’ over the past 60 years
‘My grandmother told me how much we would enjoy seeing Singapore, and meeting Singaporeans. How right she was,’ he added.
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
The couple signed a certificate 'William' and 'Catherine' to formally name the orchid.
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
Briton Jason Wright, 29, of Fleet – who works at the garden – shared a joke with William.
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 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.
their arrival a Union flag was hoisted in the VIP car park, and
assistants emerged carrying rucksacks, handbags, suit bags and a make-up
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
FASHION VERDICT by Nicole Mowbray, Life & Style Editor
fashion world has been rife with speculation about what would feature
in the Duchess of Cambridge's suitcase for her and William's Jubilee
tour of South-East Asia, but there was one thing Royal style-watchers
knew for sure. A pair of her trusty LK Bennett Sledge heels would
certainly be packed.
didn't have to wait long to find out. On day one Kate's Sledges (195)
were on display, this time in off-white. The ubiquitous platform pumps
were teamed with a slight granny-ish Jenny Packham kimono-style dress
for a tour of Singapore's Botanic Gardens. Yes, it was an appropriate
look, but it was also a trifle dull.
has a tendancy to favour slightly frumpy dresses which swamp her dainty
frame, and this orchid-printed number was a case in point. The whole
outfit was a touch too big too stiff and too old for Kate, and while
beautifully crafted, the subtle orchid print would have been more at
home on the walls of my gran's spare room than on the shoulders of a
Queen, Kate has made it a habit to customise her outfit to suit the
event she is attending. And last night's ensemble – a white and lilac
silk dress from Singapore-born designer Prabal Garung – was both
appropriate and a fashion triumph (the dress is on sale for 710, a
saving of 1,060). She looked stylish, happy and confident at a state
banquet at the President of Singapore's residence.
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.
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.
opened in 1887 and was named after Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of
Singapore. Previous guests include Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner and
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.
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
Well prepared: Kate's new hairdresser Amanda Cook arrives well-equipped with the couple at Changi Airport
Surprise: The Duchess of Cambridge looks at the crowds as she arrives with Prince William at the famous Raffles Hotel
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'.
The Duchess was also wearing a diamond bracelet that she had been given as a wedding present.
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.
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
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
As Kate walked in, she was heard to tell Mrs Tan it was ‘very impressive’ and the couple then posed for official photographs
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.
couple will add to that collection as they are leaving a signed
portrait of themselves as official gifts for the President and the Prime
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.
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
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'.
the Prime Minister's left his wife shot broad smiles across at Kate,
while behind them, aides took notes of the conversation.
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.
At the palace William gave his first speech of the tour in which he praised the Queen’s ‘exceptional dedication’ over 50 years
we left London, my Grandmother told me how very warmly she remembers
her three State Visits to this remarkable Country in 1972, 1989 and
2006; and she told me how much we would enjoy seeing Singapore, and
Official portrait: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, pose with the President of Singapore Tony Tan and his wife Mary Tan at The Istana
Happy couple: Prince William can't help grinning at his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, as they pose for official photos
right she was. Mr President, Her Majesty sends you, your wife, the
Government, and all the people of Singapore, her very best wishes,’ he
The prince also
praised 2012 as being a landmark year for the United Kingdom, not just
because of the Diamond Jubilee but also the London Olympic and
have provided us with wonderful sporting events. They have also
reminded us of the shared excitement and pleasure we can all feel when
the nations of an often divided World come together to celebrate
extraordinary feats of human achievement,’ he said.
Tour will comprise a mixture of formal and informal moments which
reflect these aims and The Duke and Duchess’s characters and interests
Intriguingly, given the constant
speculation about the couple’s plans to start a family, the Duchess
twice made toasts during the state banquet by drinking out of a water
goblet instead of the wine glass that had been placed in front of her.
Intriguing: The Duchess of Cambridge noticeably has water in her glass when toasting with President of Singapore's wife Mary Tan during a dinner at the Presidential palace
Bottoms up: Prince William opts for a glass of red while his wife Kate's glass of white wine remains untouched
Contrast: Prince William drank red wine to toast the Queen and Singapore while his wife Kate chose not to take a sip of her white wine
Kate was given a glass of white wine at her table, she noticeably chose
not to take a sip out of it as guests toasted the Queen and Singapore.
In contrast her husband, William, was seen to take a sip of his glass of red.
couple dined on a seven course Chinese meal in the Banquet Hall
including smoked duck with sliced mango, chicken consomm with herbs,
spices and wolfberries and steamed fillet of marble Goby with crispy
bean crumbs in soya sauce.
Desert was chilled jelly served with mango,
sago and pomelo and sliced baked mooncakes.
Wines were a white burgundy Faiveley Puligny Montracht ler Cru Garennes (2008) and a red Bordeaux Alter Ego de Palmer.
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.
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.
Now watch the video of Prince William and Kate's visit to Singapore