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William and Kate carried on thrones in Tuvalu

Copies of French magazine Closer showing pictures of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Britain's Prince William are displayed in a newspaper kiosk in Nice September 14, 2012. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

FUNAFUTI: Britain's Prince William and wife Catherine were carried on thrones after arriving in remote Tuvalu Tuesday as their lawyers went on the offensive in Europe over topless photos of the duchess.

Nearly half the population of 10,500 turned out to greet the future king and his wife, a day after their lawyers lodged a criminal complaint in Paris against a French magazine that published photos of Catherine sunbathing topless.

A court decision was expected later Tuesday on their request for an injunction banning the republication or resale of the grainy pictures, which were also run by an Italian magazine and an Irish newspaper.

Throughout the day, ferries packed with excited people from distant atolls arrived in the Tuvalu capital Funafuti, much of which had been freshly painted for the royal visit.

When William and Catherine stepped off their private jet they were carried on multi-coloured thrones to the parliament building where they were welcomed by Governor General Sir Iakoba Taeia Italeli and Prime Minister Willy Telavi.

Tuvalu residents say the visit is the biggest event since Britain's Queen Elizabeth, William's grandmother, arrived in the Pacific nation in 1982.

The couple will also inspect a thriving coconut tree she planted and plant two more.

William and Catherine will also visit a primary school where they will take part in a game of "te ano", a localised version of volleyball, before going to the University of the South Pacific Tuvalu Campus.

In the evening they are due to watch a traditional canoe race and be shown elements of local culture including weaving, making fishing nets, the preparation of garlands and cooking.

Their brief visit wraps up a nine-day Asia-Pacific tour marking Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee which has kept them away from the growing furore in Europe over the publication of the topless photos.

The blurry images have so far appeared in the French gossip magazine Closer, the Irish Daily Star tabloid and the Italian publication Chi.

Lawyers for William and Catherine want criminal charges for an alleged breach of privacy brought against Closer and the photographer, whose identity has not revealed.

They are also seeking an injunction to prevent Closer -- which is owned by Italian former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's Mondadori group -- from re-selling the images.

A palace spokeswoman has hinted the royal family could also launch legal action against Chi and the Irish Daily Star.

A relaxed duke and duchess touched down in Tuvalu from the Solomon Islands and spent the night in a luxury hand-thatched cottage on a secluded tropical island.

Tuvalu, which consists of six atolls and three islands that total only 25 square kilometres (9.6 square miles) of land dotted along a curve 676 kilometres long near the equator, is the last leg of their tour.

Its sparse land resources, most of which are no more than a metre above sea level, are threatened by the encroaching ocean with a 2011 report finding the water level was rising about five millimetres per year around Tuvalu.

cf/mp/pdh

by Tony Prcevich

 

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