Prince William and Kate come to the Solomons
Our position on 21st September 2012
09 49.7 south
160 51.1 east
Tavanipupu island, Marau sound, Guadalcanal island, Solomons
Great excitment here, we’ve just a royal visit from Prince William and Kate. On Monday at 4pm local time we joined a very excited group of locals at the little airfield to watch them arrive being the only white faces on the plebs side. While we were waiting we were interviewed by the Daily Telegraph. The first to arrive were 2 helicopters with special forces in them (we’ve had more police launches than we’ve ever seen in the islands buzzing around for the last couple of days) and a little plane with a few journalists and members of their staff.
Half an hour later a little plane with the Royal couple in arrived. We were all kept behind a fence although it was only waist height and only about 4 or 5 metres away from them. A conch shell was blown as they arrived which is the tradition warning signal that there could be ‘enemies’ approaching.
Some local men dressed as warriors or shall we say not wearing very much, performed a little war dance because the Prince could have come ‘in anger’. Once it was established that he was a ‘friend’ he was bestowed with gifts and traditional shell money.
The local school children sang a beautiful rendition of God Save the Queen in English and in Bislama, their language.
William and Kate were walked down the airfield on a coconut mat, not red carpet as the locals wanted to point out, and onto a waiting motor boat to take them to the island. As they walked down the mat I called to William and waved our boat ensign and said we were English and he smiled and waved back. We joined a flotilla of local launches for the twenty minute trip across the lagoon to the island of Marapa. We had been told we could put the dinghy by the village but on the day there were lots of police in launches keeping the area free. We all put dinghies, motor boats and canoes around the corner and ran through the jungle path to the village.
A corral had been built again at waist height where there were lots of things going on for them to look at. William had a go at getting a fire going and Kate tried her hand at the basket weaving. Again everyone within the corral was dressed in traditional dress which didn’t to amount to very much for the men. After about half an hour of chatting to the locals the children sang a beautiful farewell song while the older women were in the water performing water music with their hands (very clever).
Kate slipped her shoes off to get into the war canoe.
William and Kate got onto a beautifully carved war canoe with some local warriors who paddled them across about 100 metres to the island of Tavanipupu to the posh resort where they stayed the night.
The locals had made ‘sharks’ to float in the water alongside them.
When we went back to the dinghy it was blocked in by local canoes. This must be the equivalent to having your car blocked in after a gig!
The next morning we tried to anchor Camomile near the airfield to wave goodbye but we were turned away so we dressed the boat overall and hovered on their course and as they came past in the motor launch we waved again. So fairly exciting although didn’t get to actually shake their hands because they were kept in a ‘bubble’ while they were here but Kate looked very well and pretty.
Now we are anchored next to the same island they stayed on and as they opened up the resort again the next day we went to see where they stayed and treated ourselves to a belated Anniversary meal there. I had a lovely chat with the American owner and she said they looked so happy and in love and she still can’t believe they choose to stay on her island. We think she’s now sitting on a goldmine once word gets out in the celebrity world.
It’s an amazing location, we have the village on our starboard side where they still live as they have done for thousands of years very happily, with the children playing carefree in the water all day, and on our port side is the resort where for the price the guests pay for just ONE night it would educate ALL the children in the village for a whole year, it’s a strange world we live in.