A royal story in i for you today. We don’t cover Palace tittle-tattle, as you know, and stick to actual news. The reason the Duke of Cambridge’s trip to China makes the cut is because, as well as being the biggest diplomatic mission he’s undertaken, it shows Britain’s eagerness to charm the world’s most populous nation – and largest economy. The UK’s taking the initiative to improve London-Beijing relations, following tensions when David Cameron met the Dalai Lama and some British politicians supported protests in Hong Kong.
The last major royal visit to mainland China was 1986, when the Duke of Edinburgh made his infamous “slitty eyes” remark. Later, at the handover of Hong Kong in 1997, the Prince of Wales memorably described China’s leaders as “appalling old waxworks”, and hasn’t been back. But all is forgiven.
Some royals can reach across gaps our politicians can’t bridge – the Duke of Cambridge’s visit will boost mutual goodwill, interest China’s younger generations and show the sincerity behind London’s desire for a stable relationship. The Duke handed President Xi Jinping an invitation from his grandmother for a state visit to Britain. Various business deals were announced: new flight paths, cultural pacts, financial services and CBeebies-themed English learning. All of it good news, if small beans compared to the riches sought. With Prince Andrew sidelined, this won’t be the last such tour by the Duke.
Reader Helen Moore of Bromley, Kent, who has apparently managed to convert half her street and the neighbouring street (former Mail readers) to i, wants more news in her paper. We’ve quietly increased the number of news pages in i, Helen. Since last Monday, in fact, there have been two extra news pages more often than not. We’ll try to keep it up.