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Prince William Prepares for China Visit
by Owen Daniel - Feb 25, 2015
We are just days away from a history-making visit by Britain’s king-in-waiting. The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, who is third in line to the throne, is well aware that this is his most significant overseas tour yet.
Opening and closing a video greeting in Mandarin, His Royal Highness said how he’s “very pleased to be visiting China soon”. The trip marks the first time a member of the British Royal Family has gone to China in 30 years since The Queen arrived in the Middle Kingdom during 1986.
During that visit his grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip, let slip on one his more widely-known faux pas commenting to British students: “If you stay here much longer you’ll all be slitty-eyed.” This, coupled with his father’s friendship with the Dali Lama might mean things get off to a rocky start.
One of the more sensitive appointments on his schedule will be his visit to the Yunnan’s Wild Elephant Valley on March 4 – home to some of the country’s last wild elephants, and where some are trained to play football and dance to disco music several times a day.
Timed perfectly to coincide with the Royal trip, David Attenborough and a group of MPs, CEOs and activists have written an open letter to Chinese president, Xi Jinping, to end the ivory trade and avoid the pending extinction of the African elephant. In the letter they write; “Mr President, we urge and implore you to act decisively to finally end China’s domestic ivory trade (both legal and illegal), and to consider the many ways this will serve China’s long-term political and economic interests”.
On the less-controversial side, Prince William will be launching the Great Festival of Creativity in Shanghai during the first days of March – the festival celebrates British creativeness and supports business innovation in China.
His Royal Highness will land at Beijing’s International Airport after a four-day stopover in Japan where he’ll be visiting allied war memorials, meeting survivors of Fukushima and bonding with his Japanese counterpart: the 11-year-old Prince Akishino.
Unfortunately, for lifestyle publications the world-over, Kate Middleton – known officially as Catherine, the Dutchess of Cambridge – won’t be able to join the prince as she’s pregnant with their second child.
The Royals relationship with China hasn’t been ideal during recent years. In 2005, during a state visit from Hu Juntao – Prince Charles was accused of avoiding a meeting by being away on a tour of the US during the official dinner and didn’t meet with the premier during his trip.
However, four years later, Charles held his first ever private meeting with a Chinese president in the UK, during which he broached the delicate issue of Tibet with Hu – Charles is a long-time supporter of the Dalai Lama who China sees as separatist threat.
William is expected to meet with Li Keqiang, the Chinese premier, and other senior Communist Party leaders during the three-day visit. His video blog on Youtube closes with the statement: “I wish you a happy Chinese New Year and good luck in the Year of the Sheep.”
The Prince's itinery has just been published courtesy of Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and includes details of his planned trip to Yunnan, a trip around Beijing's hutongs and the visit to Shanghai. For more on his majesty's movements check out the WSJ blog.