July, 2011

Jul 11


Millions of people dream of becoming Hollywood stars but William and Kate managed it just by turning up over here.

The Dude and his Duchess, as they call them on this side of the Atlantic, are bigger than Justin Bieber, Beyonce and Barbra Streisand combined.

They are home now at the end of what must be the most successful royal tour ever. When it comes to crowd-pleasing the Cambridges really nailed it.

Over the past 30 years I have travelled around the globe countless times with members of the royal family but I have never seen any of them work as hard as the Duchess of Cambridge on her current tour of Canada.

In the scorching sunshine of Ottawa or the swarms of flying insects around the Montreal dockside where they embarked on HMCS Montreal to sail overnight to Quebec, Kate never stopped smiling. And I suspect, at the end of a long, exhausting day, her feet were aching, because I noticed she changed her snakeskin stilettos for a black pair. Yet that perfect smile never slipped.

Even when a 21-gun salute fired to celebrate Canada Day made me jump out of my skin, Kate did not flinch.

For William who usually travels alone on these trips, she is obviously a great support. They have been giggling and chatting together all day every day, as if they just can’t get enough of one another.

So while Kate and William are winning more fans for Britain what is it like to follow them around?

The answer is sheer hard work! Most of us never got a chance to recover from our jet-lag and didn’t get much sleep, as we have had to be up before dawn most days. There were journalists from 13 different countries covering this tour, a total of 1300 reporters, photographers and TV crews in Canada and another 700 in Los Angeles.

And, of course, everyone is scrabbling around trying to get an exclusive.

But the long days and missed meals all seem worth it when you consider there is an upside to all this stressful travelling and hard graft.

When we arrived in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, we attended a reception for the press with Will and Kate which was great fun.

I can’t tell you what the couple said to us because it was all off the record. All I can say is this Duke and Duchess enjoy a laugh and are having a great time on their travels.

The party took place right on the harbourside and as the sun sank into the sea we enjoyed some of the world’s best food. Lobster, unbelievably fresh oysters and wonderful scallops.
Yes, there are compensations in this job.

If you want a fantastic holiday by the sea, go to Prince Edward Island. It’s the place where Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote her children’s classic Anne of Green Gables, a book which Kate says she has loved since the age of eight.

I must applaud Clarence House officials for planning this tour. It has taken the Cambridges from the national capital Ottawa to the French-separatist area of Montreal and Quebec, over to Charlottetown on the Atlantic shore, up to the Arctic wilderness of Yellowknife in the North West Territories and back down to the cowboy country around Calgary. So they got to see the many faces of Canada and the different kinds of people who make up this melting pot of a country.

They also snatched a few brief breaks en route – taking a love boat cruise overnight from Montreal to Quebec, paddling off to a remote island in a beautiful lake, and spending 24 hours in what the Canadians called a ‘love nest‘ in the Rockies.

Then came L.A. where William, who plays this right-handed game despite being left-handed, won the trophy and collected kisses from his missus.  Later, Kate pulled out all the stops to outshine some of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

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