Britain's Kate-less Prince William kicks off Japan tour

26th February 2015, Comments 0 comments

A beaming Prince William was greeted by hundreds of fans as he arrived for his first trip to Japan Thursday, before being whisked off for a nice cup of tea at a traditional teahouse.

The second-in-line to the British throne is touring the country, which adores the British Royal family, without his wife Kate, who is heavily pregnant with the couple's second child.

A crowd of well-wishers and journalists greeted the young prince at Tokyo's Haneda airport, where he appeared immaculately turned out in a tie, light blue shirt and dark blue suit despite the lengthy flight from England.

Soon after his arrival, a smiling William accompanied by Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe, sheltered under see-through umbrellas as he boarded a boat to see areas of Tokyo Bay that will play host to some of the main events of the 2020 Olympics.

Later in the day, William will take part in a formal tea ceremony in a Japanese garden.

On Friday he will meet fellow royals Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the Imperial Palace before a business conference intended to showcase British innovation.

The prince, who is also Duke of Cambridge, is set to head to Japan's tsunami-stricken northeast on Saturday, where he will visit a playground for children.

The tour will take him to Fukushima, the prefecture that plays host to the nuclear plant that was crippled in the 2011 tsunami.

Tens of thousands of people were forced from their homes when three of the plant's reactors went into meltdown, spewing toxic radiation over a large area.

Many of those made homeless by the disaster remain displaced, and scientists say it could be decades before some areas are safe for human habitation again.

William is due to leave Japan on Sunday, bound for Beijing.

The last time a major member of Britain's royal family visited Japan was in 2008 when the duke's father, Prince Charles, came with his wife Camilla.

When the late Princess Diana visited Japan for the first time in 1986, nearly 100,000 people flocked to a parade in Tokyo, as so-called "Diana Fever" swept the nation, with many Japanese women emulating her fashion.

Leading broadcasters aired decades-old footage of Diana, and took the opportunity to indulge viewers in film of William as a baby, which they set alongside that of his baby son, George.

© 2015 AFP

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