The honeymoon problem: where in the world can happy couple go?
The newly-weds' choice of destination will speak volumes about their diplomatic skills. Simon Calder explores the options
Friday 29 April 2011
Royalty is another country: they do things differently there. The heir presumptive and his new wife are drinking at the last-chance saloon, in terms of travel. Prince William and Kate Middleton face a lifetime of not getting away from it all.
Like all newly-weds, they yearn for an indulgent idyll for their honeymoon. Meanwhile the beleagured travel industry is seeking commercially to exploit the royal wedding – hence all the manufactured speculation about where the couple will spend their honeymoon. From Scilly to the Seychelles, all manner of romantic escapes have been touted as possibilities. But the couple know that emotion and aspiration count for little in the choice of destination for the highest-profile honeymooners this century. "Soft" attributes are way down a list of essentials that starts with security and dwells on image (Cuba, China and many more are excluded because of human-rights concerns).
Three destinations have been most talked about for the royal honeymoon. One newspaper this week declared it would take place on Lizard Island off the coast of Queensland. It even specified that the couple would fly first class on British Airways. But that claim is weakened by the fact that the airline last flew to the "Sunshine State" over a decade ago. The necessary flight connection in Dubai, Hong Kong or Singapore would add immense complexity to the security operation, as well as offering free publicity to Cathay Pacific, Emirates or Qantas, rather than a UK airline. And with Prince William resuming his helicopter flying duties in a fortnight, anywhere delivering significant jetlag is off the list.
Kenya has the allure of a Masai Mara safari combined with an Indian Ocean escape – but it also has the reality of murderous terrorist attacks in both Nairobi and Mombasa. From the security point of view, it doesn't even make the shortlist. And while Jordan has traditionally been Britain's best friend in the Middle East, its proximity to hotspots such as Syria rule it out.
An island is more likely to satisfy those charged with the couple's safety. One of the Italian islands could appeal, but it is no coincidence that the collective noun for celebrity photographers is paparazzi – the risk of intrusive lenses erases Italy from the list. The royal families in Spain, Sweden and Norway could gladly guarantee discreet alternatives, from Mallorca to Spitzbergen. But the PR agenda of Clarence House will insist the new Duke and Duchess do not stray beyond the Commonwealth.
Caribbean islands are tempting, and Bequia, Mustique and Necker Island have the benefit of being easily secured. But the weather rules them out, with the storm season cooking up.
In contrast, Mauritius is freshening up at the end of cyclone season, and involves no serious jetlag. However the murder of an Irish tourist on her honeymoon in January will count against the island. Closer to home, the Mediterranean is perfect in the first two weeks of May, making Malta a front runner.
More palatable in austerity Britain could be a cruise around the Scottish islands aboard Hebridean Princess. Since the Queen took such a trip aboard this converted ferry, the security staff will be happy. And at the end of the voyage, the vessel could even drop them off at Holyhead in north-west Wales, close to the prince's place of work at RAF Valley and near the marital home.
The bookmaker Paddy Power is offering odds of 4-1 on that the honeymoon will begin with a private jet. But given concern over extravagance and the environment, a more likely outcome is a non-stop flight on either of the UK's long-haul "flag-carriers", British Airways (currently 9-4) or Virgin Atlantic (16-1); easyJet is a distant outsider at 250-1, with Ryanair at 500-1.
Canada offers adventure and indulgence, available on either the eastern island of Newfoundland or Vancouver Island on the west coast. But since it is the destination for the couple's first official tour, two months from now, a honeymoon there is unthinkable.
The strongest contender is an archipelago that is often confused with the Bahamas and Barbados: Bermuda, 1,000 miles north of the West Indies, is a dream destination from several perspectives. As one of Britain's few remaining Overseas Territories, security can be assured. According to the Bermuda Weather Service, travellers in the first half of May can expect long, sunny days with average highs of 24C, with an average of less than an inch of rain. And, crucially, it is difficult for the media to reach – with BA's daily flight from Gatwick the only link from Europe.
The one certainty: whichever destination is chosen will subsequently enjoy a surge of bookings from commoners seeking a touch of class.
Additional research by Louise Dransfield
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