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Pacific welcome awaits William and Kate

Story highlights

  • William and Catherine are on a tour of southeast Asian nations
  • Residents of the Solomon Islands are set to give them a warm welcome
  • Their visit to Malaysia was overshadowed by a furor over topless photos of Kate
  • William and Kate are suing the French magazine that published the pictures

After the furor caused by a French magazine's decision to publish topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge, she and Prince William will be more than ready to get away from it all in the South Pacific.

As they arrive in the Solomon Islands on the next step of their Asian tour, "Welkom William and Kate" is the message the royal couple will see on huge billboards scattered across the capital, Honiara.

And in a straw poll of residents, it's clear the city is more than excited about the couple's arrival on Sunday.

One man told me he will be heading to the airport early to catch a glimpse of them. He guessed half the population will turn out for the "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

The couple are no doubt set for a big South Pacific welcome, involving not just big crowds but music and dancers. They will surely smile when they see their ground transport -- a pick-up truck dressed up as a canoe. Oarsmen will pretend to row the couple into town.

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Later in the trip they will take to a real canoe, with rowers who will take them to a paradise island, accompanied by swimmers dressed as sharks.

This leg of the tour will be full of photo opportunities -- but Kate and William may well have mixed views about that.

The last leg to Malaysia was overshadowed by the French magazine Closer's decision to publish pictures of Kate sunbathing topless while on a private holiday with William in France.

She was upset, William is angry and they have both decided to take legal action against the publisher.

But this is part of a bigger battle. They are trying to set a precedent; drawing a line under what they see as creeping media intrusion.

William is fiercely protective of his wife and he is determined to protect her from the fate of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, who was hounded by the paparazzi right up to the moment she died in Paris.

After Diana: How can intimate royal snaps be published in France?

What will hearten, and possibly surprise, William and Kate when they get here is that nobody is talking about the topless pictures.

I can't see a mention of it in the papers and people seem much more interested in catching a glimpse of the couple and celebrating this moment when the Solomons take a rare step into the global spotlight.

It's really only the media pack accompanying the tour that is discussing the photos -- because that's what's making the headlines in Europe, the United States and Australia.

There is some apprehension among the accredited photographers that Kate and William will now become even more shy of the cameras, but the palace says the couple are determined to carry on with the tour as planned. They don't want their trip to be ruined by the magazine scandal and it seems the islanders awaiting their arrival feel the same.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge look set to have some respite and some fun in the Solomon Islands.

But as this week has demonstrated, nothing about royal tours is predictable.

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