Here we go again! Just when royal wedding fever was becoming a lovely memory I’m back blogging once more under a new name – Royal Insider.
I’m off this week to Canada to cover the first tour abroad of William and Kate. This definitely will NOT be a summer holiday for the newlyweds.
It’s Kate’s biggest, most daunting official engagement yet. It involves ten days traipsing around the world’s second largest country. They will visit nine different cities, take an overnight journey by boat, and at least eight flights, including a few side trips to country lakes and beauty spots, not to mention shaking thousands and thousands of eager hands.
William has visited Canada twice before so it is Kate who will be under the most intense scrutiny. From the top of her gorgeous, glossy dark head to the soles of her stiletto heels, she will be forensically examined by the crowds. Women will be vying for a close-up on what she wears. Me too.
Kate and William are now such big news on both sides of the Atlantic that they outshine every other hot couple you could name. Forget Brad and Angelina ( Brangelina, as Americans call them) or Posh and Becks. Mr and Mrs Wales, or the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as they are now officially known, are what one newspaper called a Billion Dollar Brand.
William is a future king and Kate is the world’s new Queen of the Cover Girls. I imagine perma-tanned Cheryl Cole is now turning a deep shade of emerald.
When I recall how quiet and civilised it was following the Queen on her tour of Canada last July, I know this year’s journey is going to be rather different.
I have lost count of the number of royal tours I have covered, probably around 40, since my first in 1983 when when Charles and Diana toured Australia and New Zealand for six exhausting weeks.
We had 100 journalists on that trip. Now an amazing 1300 journalists from around the globe have applied to cover the Cambridges’ Canadian tour plus another 700 are trying to report on the second leg of the trip in California.
Every flight and every hotel along the route was booked out weeks ago, and I know the press pens will be unbelievably crowded with photographers jostling for shots of our beautiful brunette duchess.
The royal Rat Pack on the road is always a bit like Oxford Circus just before Christmas. Snappers laden down with cameras, lenses and tripods, as well as ladders to help them stand above the crowds, rush clanking from place to place, all desperate to secure the best vantage point.
After watching them at work last Saturday when Kate carried out her first military job at Victoria Barracks, Windsor, I have decided to call this gang the Cambridge Circus.
It was her first chance to show her serious side, to pay tribute to the heroes of the Irish Guards and their families who have made such sacrifices in Afghanistan for us all. Kate rose to the occasion, as outstanding as the round tower at nearby Windsor Castle.
I was impressed as she slowly shook the hands of 60 servicemen in the Ist Bn of the Irish Guards,and presented medals. She made a real effort to give each one a few special minutes, asking about the Afghan tour and the hazards of life in the frontline.
This girl has got IT, a natural knack for charming everyone she meets.
When she crouched down to take a bouquet from a little girl and bent over to chat to a guardsman who lost his legs in an explosion, I was reminded of Princess Diana’s gentle touch.
In fact, Diana wore an almost identical outfit in white when she reviewed cadets at the Sovereign’ s Parade at Sandhurst in 1988.
Next stop Ottawa where the Canadian tour begins. I’ll be keeping you posted on all our Canadian capers.