William and Kate to receive highest Tuvalu award… for just VISITING the nation
THE Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are to receive the highest award from the South Pacific island nation of Tuvalu – effectively for just going there.
Discussions are under way for William and Kate to be invited to an investiture in London to each receive the Tuvalu Order of Merit in recognition of their 2012 visit to the Polynesian nation of nine tiny islands with a combined population of 11,200 spread over 10 square miles.
Their visit there as part of a tour of Asia and the Pacific marking the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 produced iconic images of the royal couple.
They were carried off their charter aircraft shoulder high on a spectacular double throne by 25 Polynesian men dressed in pandanus leaf skirts. Later, crowned with flower garlands and wearing brightly-coloured skirts swinging from their hips, the couple danced the night away with islanders in paradise.
Tuvalu’s honorary consul in London, Dr Iftikhar Ayaz, confirmed that the couple have now been honoured almost five years later to recognise the joy that their visit brought to Tuvalu.
“Whenever they have been reminded about it, they have expressed great affection and love for the country,” he said.
“They had a lovely time there. They will remember that visit for a very long time.”
They had a lovely time there. They will remember that visit for a very long time
Dr Iftikhar Ayaz
Dr Ayaz, who runs the tiny nation’s consulate in Britain from a semi-detached house in Wimbledon, hopes the investiture ceremony will be held soon in a London hotel, or the Commonwealth Secretariat offices in the capital if the Commonwealth Secretary General Baroness Scotland gives permission.
“I have written to the Queen’s private secretary, Sir Christopher Geidt, asking if he will present the Duke and Duchess with the medals,” he said.
He explained that the Order of Merit was his country’s highest award and formed part of a new honours system set up last year to be independent from Britain’s twice-yearly awards which previously included people honoured in Tuvalu, one of the 15 overseas realms where the Queen is head of state.
The Queen approved the honour on the advice of her government ministers in Tuvalu, who made the awards on the national day, October 1, last year. But it seems nobody outside of the Royal Household noticed until this week.
A Kensington Palace official said the royal couple were honoured to have been awarded the Order of Merit.
Tuvalu, a palm-fringed former British colony known as the Ellice Islands until it became a fully independent nation in 1978, is the third smallest country in the world in terms of population and the fourth smallest in land size.
Made up of five coral atolls and four islands rising from the seabed no higher than 15ft halfway between Australia and Hawaii, it is vulnerable to climate change and higher sea levels.
At a state banquet during their 2012 visit, William and Kate sat barefoot on low stools while everyone else sat cross-legged on the floor.
In a speech, William said: “Your wonderful welcome has to be the most original and quite literally uplifting ever, we will both remember it and the joy and happiness of what has followed for the rest of our lives.”
Source: EXPRESS CO UK
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