While the birth of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s second child will be the most anticipated arrival for royalty in 2015, another royal arrival of great importance is in the offing: China hopes to welcome British royalty to the country for only the second time ever. Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, is expected to announce a trip to China next year sometime this week, marking the first time a royal has arrived on the Chinese mainland since 1986.
“There has been an invitation [from China], and it’s being considered,” an unnamed royal official told the South China Morning Post. “I think there’s a good chance the Duke of Cambridge will travel out to China in the first quarter of next year.”
Prince William’s trip, which probably won’t include his pregnant wife, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, who is due to give birth sometime in April, is expected to solidify Sino-British relations after a successful visit by China’s Premier Li Keqiang this summer, and do some additional damage control after Prime Minister David Cameron met with exiled religious leader the Dalai Lama last year, angering Beijing.
The report says Buckingham Palace is expected to make a formal announcement of the royal visit sometime this week. Other details of the trip are “not particularly advanced in terms of the planning.”
The Daily Telegraph is reporting that Chinese officials have begun preparing an itinerary for the visit, which would include stops in China’s two biggest cities, Beijing and Shanghai. The Telegraph reports that the proposed itinerary will be given to the British Foreign Office for approval by the end of the year.
Prince William will be the first royal to visit mainland China since 1986, when his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II toured the country. During her six-day stay, the Queen visited Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, Kunming and Guangzhou.
Aside from that, Prince Charles was the last royal to visit Greater China, visiting Hong Kong in 1997 in a handover ceremony that marked the end of British colonial rule over the island city.