William and Kate gear up for a royal tour of Asia and the South Pacific27 AUGUST 2012
She's been keeping a low profile in the 17 days between the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games and this week's official opening of the Paralympics – and who can blame her?
For even a young woman as full of energy and vitality as the Duchess of Cambridge needs time to prepare for her next big challenge, which is possibly her toughest yet.
In a fortnight’s time, she and the Duke of Cambridge will embark on a nine-day tour of South-East Asia, where Kate will represent the Queen for the first time as part of the monarch's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
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And while the adventurous young couple will embrace the opportunity to encounter new people and learn about their cultures and customs, there will be the more testing aspects of the trip to deal with, such as soaring temperatures and nipping insects, on top of what is bound to be an exhausting schedule.
But if Prince William feels in any way daunted by the prospect, it will be even harder for his wife. As the Queen’s female representative on the trip, Kate will feel under increased pressure to ensure she doesn’t put a designer-shoeclad foot wrong.
Her Majesty may take only a size 4, but they are mighty big shoes to fill and Kate, having grown ever closer to her husband’s grandmother in the past year – and having gained increased respect for her dedication to duty through their joint attendance at various official functions – will want to do the Queen proud, as her every move, outfit and gesture are examined. "Kate will feel under scrutiny more than ever before on this trip," HELLO! was told last week.
"Her first official tour, when she and William visited Canada and California, was a triumph, but Kate was still new to it all – it was her honeymoon period, both in terms of her marriage and her relationship with the public. Now that she’s had more time to settle in, it’ll be even tougher because she’s set the bar so high."
The trip, which begins on September 11, will take the Duke and Duchess to Singapore, Malaysia, the Solomon Islands and a tiny speck in the Pacific called Tuvalu. It’s a packed itinerary, from the informal (such as trips to a botanical garden and a primary school) to formal state dinners and receptions at the High Commission.
With most days involving as many as five engagements, Kate has had to compile a vast and varied wardrobe. Some outfits are likely to have been recycled – as we know, the thrifty Duchess is an advocate of wearing outfits more than once – but many items will be new.
As a young woman who likes to see to her own styling, it’s fair to say there will have been a fair few shopping trips over the past couple of weeks.
Little wonder, then, that Kate as needed some time out of the spotlight.
For the full report on how the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are preparing for their tour, plus details of the 'dream team' who will be grooming her for success, see this week's HELLO!, out now.
Report: Judy Wade