William and Kate win hearts with their grace and charm
THE Duchess of Cambridge confessed to being "so nervous" before making her maiden speech overseas at Hospis Malaysia on Thursday. But she appeared relaxed, looked elegant in a duck egg blue dress and smiled charmingly as she praised the launch of the country's very first palliative care programme for children and the "wonderful work" of the centre, and spoke of the "vital" and "life-changing" role played by hospices, something which she learnt through her patronage of the East Anglia Children's Hospice.
One result of this royal connection is that links are being forged between the two hospices. But, perhaps more importantly, though Hospis Malaysia can count on the support of a royal patron -- Raja Zarith Sofia, consort of the sultan of Johor -- the wide coverage of Kate's visit will help to raise awareness about the importance of palliative treatment for the terminally ill in this country, something which is still lacking.
However, while a high-profile member of the royalty helps draw attention to the good work that lesser-known causes do, it also attracts the attention of the most intrusive kind from the paparazzi. News that a French magazine had published pictures of the Duchess bathing topless while on holiday broke as the royal couple stepped out to visit the Asskyakrin Mosque on Friday, where Kate took off her shoes and put on a headscarf. It must have been difficult for the Duchess to look at ease and flash her winning smile later in the afternoon at the tea party at the residence of the British high commissioner when her privacy had been violated and she felt angry, hurt and disgusted. But as difficult as it must have been and as unsettling as the publication of more intimate photos in an Irish newspaper on Saturday, and plans by an Italian magazine to do the same, William and Kate finished their tour of duty in the Danum Valley rainforest looking unfazed and unruffled.
What is clear is that the publication of the photos has not affected their image at all. Everywhere they went, William and Kate have been greeted with enthusiasm by cheering crowds and flag-waving well-wishers. All in all, the Diamond Jubilee tour went well. As Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said, the royal visit will strengthen relations between the two countries. This certainly cannot be said of Prince Harry's reception on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan, where the Taliban has launched "Harry Operations" to kill or kidnap the prince. On Friday, Camp Bastion, where the third in line to the British throne is based, came under attack.