The West

Kate radiant for Singapore orchid tour
The Duchess of Cambridge, on tour in Singapore.

Britain's Prince William and his wife, Catherine, have had a sombre start to their second official overseas tour, becoming the first royals to view a white orchid named in his mother's honour.

Princess Diana never got to see the magnificent free-flowing hybrid as she died only a few weeks before a scheduled trip to Singapore's Botanic Gardens in 1997.

“It's beautiful, just beautiful,” the Duke remarked of the metre-high flower, and said it was a shame his mother had not had the chance to see it.

The gardens' manager, Alan Tan Chye Soon, who had been involved in preparations to welcome Diana before tragedy struck, said: “It was like William and Kate are fulfilling her promise today.”

The orchid named in her honour is Dendrobium Memoria Princess Diana.

In a further sign that Kate is filling the void left by Diana's death 15 years ago, hundreds of locals braved the scorching Singapore sun at the gardens on Tuesday, breaking into thunderous applause when the glamour couple arrived.

The Duchess of Cambridge defied the sticky monsoonal heat in a soft pink, long-sleeved, knee-length dress, patterned with orchids, by British designer Jenny Packham.

She teamed it with a half-up hair do, delicate drop pearl earrings and her much favoured nude heels.

The future king was overheard joking with his wife about how well her dress matched the orchid that had been named in their joint honour, the Vanda William Catherine.

The nine-day tour of South-East Asia and the South Pacific by William and Kate marks 60 years of the Queen's reign.

The royal couple were later feted at a state dinner hosted by Singapore's President Tony Tan at his official residence.

The Duke of Cambridge, who inspected a guard of honour, took the time to speak to a number of soldiers before the couple headed in to the dinner.

In a departure from the usual stuffy outfits seen at functions of this kind, Kate selected an above-the-knee, multicoloured dress.

The outfit by Nepalese American designer Prabal Gurung, who was born in Singapore, had an exotic feel to it suited to the tropical island, and was teamed with sleek black stilettos and a black clutch.

Kate looked relaxed despite the attention - testament to how well she has adapted to her role in the public eye.

She also sported a glowing tan courtesy of the couple's recent private getaway in Provence.

The dinner will wrap up the first of their three days in Singapore.

The Queen has personally selected much of their nine-day itinerary, which also takes in Malaysia, the Solomon Islands and the tiny island of Tuvalu - but not Australia.

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