Britain’s Prince William and his wife, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, headed to a secluded corner of the Solomon Islands yesterday in a war canoe as their lawyers lodge a criminal complaint in France over topless photographs of her.
The young couple were again greeted by huge crowds in scenes reminiscent of their reception on Sunday as they landed in the capital, Honiara, as part of their jubilee tour, which has also taken in Singapore and Malaysia.
William, second in line to the British throne, said he was thrilled by their welcome to the lush Pacific island, putting on a brave face despite the photograph row, which has cast a shadow over their trip.
“This land is the most beautiful place imaginable and the people of the Solomon Islands are amongst the most gracious and friendly we have ever met,” he said in a speech on Sunday evening, where he wore a traditional batik shirt.
The remote tropics were a world away from the controversy raging in Europe over topless photographs of Catherine, which appeared in a French magazine.
They infuriated the couple and rekindled memories of William’s mother Princess Diana, who was killed in a Paris car crash in 1997 while being chased by paparazzi.
A St James’ Palace spokeswoman said the pair would lodge a criminal complaint in France over the taking and publication of the images that appeared in the magazine Closer.
The spokeswoman said the couple wanted criminal charges brought against the photographer who took the photographs, as well as the magazine which ran them.
The palace also said it would seek an injunction at a court hearing in Paris to prevent further publication of the pictures before taking civil action for damages.
In a fresh blow, the images, which the palace called a “grotesque” breach of privacy, appeared again, in Saturday’s Irish Daily Star.
Italian gossip magazine Chi devoted 26 pages to the grainy paparazzi photographs in a special issue yesterday — a move the palace said would heap “unjustifiable upset” on Catherine.
Putting aside the distraction, William and Catherine were all smiles as they were greeted by Solomons Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo before visiting a cultural village, where thousands turned up to watch as rain fell.
The royal pair then parted for a period, William giving a speech at a youth conference in which he said “the Commonwealth is more relevant today than it has ever been” before kicking a soccer ball with some local children.
Catherine, in a canary yellow dress, visited a women’s group where she was presented with a cake, as the Queen was when she toured the Solomons in 1974.
They met up again for a reception for supporters of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust before a lunch in aid of Solomon Island charities.
The royal duo then boarded a flight to Marau, also in the Solomons, where they were to receive a traditional warrior and chiefs’ welcome, before traveling by boat to the island of Marapa.