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Singapore warmly welcomes UK's William and Catherine

SINGAPORE--Britain's Prince William and his wife Catherine were greeted by crowds of cheering well-wishers Tuesday as they arrived in Singapore at the start of an Asia-Pacific tour.

The glamorous royal couple went from Singapore's airport to the city-state's Botanic Gardens for their first engagement of their nine-day visit, which will also take in Malaysia, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

William, wearing a dark blue suit and light blue tie, and Catherine, in a short-sleeved, knee-length cream dress, chatted with staff as they toured the gardens and were presented with a specially bred orchid.

William was shown another orchid named after his late mother Princess Diana, who was killed in a car crash in Paris in 1997.

They were then taken to Singapore's grand, British colonial-era Raffles Hotel, where more than 100 people lined the gravel driveway and took pictures as the couple emerged from their car and stepped on to the red carpet.

Courtney Brassell, an American living in Singapore who brought her 5-month-old boy along, said of Catherine: “I love her. We've been waiting for half an hour. I personally would like to see Kate. She is always so pretty and I want to see what she is wearing.”

Despite the crowds, it was a relatively low-key first few hours for William and Catherine, who will attend a state dinner at the presidential palace later and will meet the public in bigger numbers at their engagements on Wednesday.

Britain's younger royals are touring the globe this year as part of celebrations marking the 60-year reign of William's grandmother Queen Elizabeth II, as they seek to maintain the family's relevance in a fast-changing world.

The royals also played a prominent role during the London Olympics but they suffered a public relations hiccup when William's younger brother, Harry, was photographed nude with a female friend at a Las Vegas hotel.

William and Catherine, who were married in April last year, will stay in Singapore until Thursday. They then head to Malaysia, where they will tour the capital Kuala Lumpur and Borneo's Sabah state from September 13-15.

In Malaysia, Catherine will give her first speech abroad, to staff and patients at a hospice, as she settles in to her duties with the British monarchy.

The pair will fly to the Solomon Islands, an impoverished former British protectorate north-east of Australia, and stay from Sept. 16-18 before a final stop in the tiny nation of Tuvalu until Sept. 19.

The royals are also expected to take part in sporting activities and wear traditional dress when they visit the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu, as well as travel by canoe at one point.

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 From vats that echo history, a new style of shiraz from Hunter Valley 
Britain's Prince William, right, and his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, are welcomed by a lion dance performance during their visit to Strathmore Green, a precinct in Queenstown, a residential district of Singapore, Wednesday, Sept. 12.

(AFP)

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