01/20/2012

Kate follows the sun and flees Wales for Mustique

MustiqueThe Caribbean sun has beckoned and the Middletons have answered with a vacation in their rented villa (not necessarily this one) on the island of Mustique. (Shutterstock)

Bring stuck in damp old England isn’t a great way to pass the winter months. Even a royal will admit that much.

Kate and pippaSo, while the Queen keeps the home fires burning at Sandringham, others in the clan are seeking some sun. Like the Duchess of Cambridge, who is working on her tan this week on the island of Mustique in the West Indies.

Prince William remained behind in Wales, fulfilling his work schedule at the RAF’s search and rescue base in Anglesey. It’s reported that he’ll join her there shortly as the couple takes a break before William heads to the Falkland Islands for a six-week deployment.

They’ll be sharing the Caribbean beach with the rest of the Middletons -- parents Michael and Carole (shortly celebrating her 57th birthday), and siblings Pippa and James -- plus a couple of protection officers.

The island has been a regular retreat for the Middleton family. It also has a long-standing royal tradition, with the late Princess Margaret a frequent visitor in the days when the island was more of an unknown hideaway than a vacation destination.

Not to be outdone, Prince Harry will be mixing business with pleasure when he goes on a spring break. It even looks like the British government is trying to turn William’s brother into a diplomat.

That’s a tall order given his party-going nature. Even taller when one of his first ports of call is Carnival-loving Rio de Janeiro.

The Brazilian party capital has been added to Harry’s official Diamond Jubilee itinerary, which has him doing a solo royal tour to Belize (March 2-3), Bahamas (March 3-5) and Jamaica (March 5-8).

Sugar loaf mountainHarry is the first royal out of the gate for the designated 2012 tours by family members to celebrate the Queen’s 60 years on the throne and he’ll have to watch his diplomatic step. For one thing, he has to go to Jamaica, whose new prime minister has decided it’s time to cut the colonial cord and tell the Queen she’s no longer needed as head of state.

Then it’s on to Rio for three days. Britain’s foreign secretary, William Hague, admits this visit is part of a full-court press to "re-energize" relations with Latin America.

In addition to a lot of hand-shaking, Harry will be doing an event on the city’s famed Sugar Loaf Mountain (above photo) and will also be playing in a polo match. Part of the trip is meant to benefit his charities, but there is a clear mission to extend the UK brand in that part of the world.

That’s not an easy sell, especially since Britain has long had a strained relationship with one of Brazil’s neighbours, Argentina. The British and Argentinians have waged a war of words since their two-month war in 1982 over sovereignty of the Falklands where, of course, William is headed, setting off a whole new set of finger-wagging.

If Harry can smooth over a little of that tempest, then he will have earned his royal stripes.

After he finishes up on March 11, he has three days of “private” time in the country, which has plenty of beaches, bars and bikini-clad beauties to distract a single prince. Looks like he’ll need the rest.

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