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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Systems Analyst (Retail)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Up to 20% bonus: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: An...

Head of Digital Marketing,London

To £58k Contract 12 months: Charter Selection: Major household name charity se...

Lead Hand - QC

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Lead Hand - QCProgressive are recruiting...

Technical Manager / Lead - Mechanical.

£43000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading Br...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The daily catch-up: fathers looking after children, World Cup questions and Nostradamus

John Rentoul
 

Letter from the Political Editor: Phone and data laws to be passed in haste

Andrew Grice
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice