Visits to Sabah by members of the British Royal Family

Updated 16 September 2012

After Sabah, Wills and Kate went to the Solomon Islands. Based on newsreports, my observations/comparisons:

- Almost the entire population of the capital of the Solomon Islands (70,000) turned up to line the 8 km route between the airport and the city centre. Kids jumped and screamed from car roofs; the rows of people sometimes went 20 deep. Back in KK, how was the reception from the locals?

- The cathedral, St Barnabas, didn’t look much bigger than Tamparuli’s old church.

As a Sabahan/Malaysian, I was bracing for tabloid reports of things that went wrong during the Royal Couple’s visit here. The fact that I could find none, even in the usually merciless reader comments section, is testament to our level of professionalism.

In the Solomon Islands, the western papers almost gleefully reported that:

- The hosts apparently didn’t prepare a mobile aircon, for Kate was “fanning herself madly” during the church service.

- The power went out 4 times during the church service: 3 times during the Archbishop’s sermon (by his reaction, it’s apparent that this is a common thing).

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14 September 2012

Before visiting Sabah, a photo which I’ll call The Pinnacle of Protocol in Malaysia

At least by members of the House of Windsor, which was founded by King George V on 17th July 1917, and whose most prominent member is its head, Queen Elizabeth II. Note: The accuracy of the following list is subject to verification.

1959/1960: The Queen and the Duke visited then-Jesselton.

1965: Prince Philip visited the east coast during the Konfrantasi, 1965
1970: The Duchess of Kent visited Sandakan in 1970
1972: The Queen + Prince Philip visited in Feb or March 1972
2001: Prince Andrew (Duke of York) visited KK on 16th May 2001, and Labuan the day after

So the current visit by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would be the sixth – they touched down at Kota Kinabalu International Airport (Terminal 2) around 10 minutes before 8pm greeted by the Chief Minister and two of his Deputies, then proceed to Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort (STAR) where they spent 30 minutes mingling before calling it a night. STAR was chosen probably because of its proximity to the airport.

Photos of the moment they arrived at STAR.

The next day, they flew by helicopter to Danum Valley.

On Sunday the 16th September, which incidentally is Malaysia Day, they were given a red carpet send-off around 7am by the CM, 2 DCMs and the SKN, amongst others. They left for the Solomon Islands & Tuvalu.

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Goodness knows what went through their minds as they arrived in Sabah:
[1] they only found out about the French tabloid controversy during breakfast in Kuala Lumpur that morning. The topless photos were apparently taken the week before where they went for a short holiday before embarking on their present Far East tour.
[2] the plane apparently had to circle KKIA twice before managing to land due to strong winds

I wonder if anybody discreetly told them as they arrived at STAR: “Your Highness, you’re staying at the same hotel as did the guy who was responsible for the collapse of your country’s oldest investment bank 17 years ago”.

Some more observations:
[1] They must be masters in exchanging pleasantries / polite smalltalk
[2] I wonder how much luggage of clothes the Duchess brought – or do those travel separately and managed by an entire team?

The nearest I ever got to a member of the British Royal Family was when Anne, the Princess Royal (sister of Prince Charles, auntie of Prince William) visited my school in 1989. We all lined up in front of the school as her helicopter landed and she was greeted by the Headmaster and the Head Prefect.

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