Why islanders are feeling shirty over Kate Middleton's costume gaffe in the Solomon Islands

Royal visits take meticulous planning. No end of protocol and decorum has to be considered. Our diarist notes a largely ignore recent mishap

Share

There was ample coverage in this country of the occasion when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met topless dancers in the Solomon Islands last week, but somehow the volcanic row that has erupted about the clothes the couple wore at a state dinner in the evening has not made the British news.

The visit was intended to celebrate the culture of Solomons, an archipelago where more than half a million people live, most of them descendants of people who arrived there in the Stone Age. To the horror of their hosts, instead of coming to the state dinner dressed like Solomon islanders, William and Kate turned up in clothes from the Cook Islands, almost 3,000 miles further out in the Pacific.

Weeks of meticulous preparation and negotiation went into the dinner. The agreement between Clarence House and the Solomons’ government was that William would be presented with two gorgeous shirts tailor-made locally, while his wife would wear a summer dress she had brought with her. The shirts were duly laid out in their hotel room. But at the last minute, an over-keen member of the welcoming committee, Kethie Sunders, nipped into the couple’s room to leave a number of extra gifts. When William and Kate arrived, they found a handsome blue shirt and a brightly-coloured dress laid out on their beds and put them on, little knowing what offence they were about to cause.

A press release issued by Government House said: “We are incredibly frustrated that this situation has come about and see Kethie as entirely to blame. It was completely inappropriate for her to go to Their Royal Highnesses’ room, which she filled with various things, causing confusion.”

***

French beat a royal retreat

But the royals have chalked up one success. A new issue of Closer, the French magazine which carried the sneaky shots of Kate topless, has hit newsstands. It has no pictures of the Duchess, no mention of the court action, nor even a picture of Pippa Middleton, whom it has featured almost every week since her sister’s wedding.

***

Hague defends whipping-boy

William Hague was doing the rounds of broadcasting studios yesterday defending the Chief Whip, Andrew Mitchell. That sort of firefighting is usually the job of the Conservative Party chairman, but he was nowhere to be seen. If he had popped up anywhere, he would have been asked about his strange double life as Grant Shapps, pictured, Tory MP, and Michael Green, internet entrepreneur, and how he could claim to have been born in both London and in Hertfordshire. This month’s reshuffle has landed the Tories with a Chief Whip who is clinging to his job and a chairman who has gone into hiding.

***

Governor rolls up the red carpet

One of the more interesting decisions made by the Coalition in these austere times was to allocate £250m to build an airport on the world’s most remote inhabited island. St Helena’s nearest neighbour is Ascension Island, 700 miles away in the southern Atlantic, and its main link with the world is a boat that sails periodically from Cape Town, 1,948 miles away. Lord Ashcroft, the billionaire whose money kept the Tories afloat during their darkest years, is an enthusiast for the St Helena airport.

In the long run, the construction is supposed to save the UK Government money by creating a tourist industry that will make the island self- sufficient. At present, its 4,000 inhabitants receive £25m a year in UK aid. Whether they are ready to have their islands invaded by large numbers of visitors is an open question. One of the top attractions is Plantation House, the home of Jonathan, pictured, a giant tortoise who is about 180 years old. It is also the residence Governor Mark Capes and his wife. This week, they annoyed some of those people planning ahead to boost the tourist trade by announcing that there will be no more tours of the house this year because they have guests.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C++ Quant Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Developer C++, Python, STL, R, PD...

Java/Calypso Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Java/Calypso Developer Java, Calypso, J2EE, J...

SQL Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer SQL, C#, Stored Procedures, MDX...

Front-Office Developer (C#, .NET, Java, AI)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-Office D...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ashya King in hospital with his mother  

Ashya King: Breakdown in relations led to this PR fiasco

Paul Peachey
Jim Murphy, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development holds a carton of eggs during a speech to Better Together supporters  

When the course of history is on the line, democracy is a raw, vicious and filthy business

Matthew Norman
Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
9 best steam generator irons

9 best steam generator irons

To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing