Saturday, September 15, 2012

Prince William and Kate Middleton, toured Danum Valley, Sabah, East Malaysia, September 15th, 2012 despite furore over topless pictures of the Duchess

The British royal couple, Prince William and Kate Middleton in Danum Valley, Lahad Datu, Sabah, Saturday, 15th September 2012

This is the famed view of Danum Valley pristine rainforest, older than Amazon rainforest in Latin America, majestically covered by mist, can be seen early morning from an observation post.

The visit as shown on Malaysian TV

The royal couple were greeted warmly by the indigenous people of Sabah upon arrival at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport, Sabah, East Malaysia on the evening of Friday, 14th September 2012.

Flashback, while in Kuala Lumpur, Kate Middleton chit chatted with 2 Malaysian Olympic medalists, Lee Chong Wei - double Olympics silver medalist, 2008 and 2012 and partially seen here is Pandelela Rinong, Bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics, 10 metres paltform.

Prince William and Kate on board a Sabah Air Helicopter piloted by the experienced Kapten Naru Kiob, en route to Danum Valley, Sabah, East Malaysia.

This is the scary part of Danum Valley, crossing the 300 metres canopy walkway, at 26 metres high from ground level!!

Prince William and his wife toured a forest in eastern Malaysia Saturday amid a tempest and furore over the publication of topless photographs of Kate by a French magazine, Closer.

Shortly after arrival in Danum Valley, about 1,850 kilometres east of Kuala Lumpur, the royal couple was briefed by scientists about efforts to conserve and protect one of the world's few remaining virgin forests.

Throughout the visit, Prince Charming, William and his wife Catherine put on a brave face and smiling all the way.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the pristine Danum Valley rainforest in Malaysia's Sabah state, as part of the Queen's diamond jubilee celebrations.

Ignoring the furore caused by the publication of the pictures by the French magazine Closer, the couple spent 20 minutes trekking through the rainforest wearing long-sleeved safari-style shirts, khaki pants and thick boots to keep out the leeches.

Despite the controversial photos, the humidity and fact she was dressed down, Kate looked unruffled and grinned throughout, clearly enjoying their stroll through the jungle.

Announcing a world exclusive, French Closer magazine invited readers, via its website, to pick up the new edition and enjoy "the photos that the world can't wait to see the Duchess of Cambridge topless on a guesthouse terrace". The pictures were apparently taken while the British royals were on holiday in France last week.

Splashed on the front cover and inside on five pages, many of the grainy photos feature what appears to be Catherine wearing just the bottoms of a black and white bikini and looking so fit that the magazine said "Victoria's Secret angels can stand aside."

In a swift move, St. James Palace fired off a statement condemning the photos:

"Their Royal Highnesses have been hugely saddened to learn that a French publication and a photographer have invaded their privacy in such a grotesque and totally unjustifiable manner. The incident is reminiscent of the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, and all the more upsetting to the duke and duchess for being so. Their Royal Highnesses had every expectation of privacy in the remote house. It is unthinkable that anyone should take such photographs, let alone publish them."

Officials aside, the topless paparazzi photos have already provoked outrage from British media, and UK papers will likely refuse to print the pics in the same way that many outlets -- save for the Sun, which eventually relented -- declined to post the Prince Harry nude photos.

Now back to the royal pair visit to Danum Valley. The Duke and Duchess were then winched up a 117-foot (35-metre) tree to a canopy walkway, where they crossed a wobbly Indiana Jones-style bridge to witness up close the jungle paradise in which a new species of frog was discovered two years ago.

They were then fitted with special harnesses and helmets in a private room before being hoisted 138ft up into a giant parashorea tomentella tree using a “counterweight pulley system” which had been set by rope access technicians to their combined weight, believed to be 150kg.

Despite venting their anger in a statement on Friday which spoke of the magazine’s “grotesque and totally unjustifiable actions”, the Duke showed he was determined to maintain a sense of humour.

As they waited in their harnesses at the base of the tree, the Duke looked at his wife and quipped: “Girls don’t have the same wardrobe malfunctions as men do. I hope I don’t have any wardrobe malfunctions.”

The Duchess, appearing somewhat apprehensive as she looked upwards at her route of ascent into the jungle canopy, said: “I’m going to go “whee” and just fly up.”

The Duke then asked the rope technicians at the base of the tree: “Is it ok to squeak as we go up?”

Simon Amos, the rope access technician who oversaw their ascent up the tree, said: “It’s the closest anyone will ever get to time travel. What they are seeing is exactly what it would have looked like 150 million years ago as there has never been an ice age here. It is as if time stood still.”

Suspended in the air, with sweeping views over the top of the jungle canopy, they were greeted up the tree by Kalsum Yusah, 32, from Sabah, who completed a PhD in entomology at Cambridge University two years ago and is now based at the field centre.

Miss Yusah said: “They just said it was such a surreal, totally unique experience up there because they had never been up in the canopy.

“They enjoyed it immensely and they weren’t scared of the heights. They asked about the primates, birds and insects and they were interested in how the forest is sustained.

“They enjoyed it because it gets them into the midst of the canopy, where there’s nothing much else going on.”

After spending around 10 minutes up in the air, they were lowered back down to the ground, with wide smiles, clearly amazed by what they had seen.

“That was rather surreal, wasn’t it?” said the Duchess. “It was amazing, such a treat, really brilliant to be up there. I could have stayed up there for hours, even though there were a lot of ants.”

The Duke wryly joked that even high up in the jungle canopy, he could not escape a photographer who had been positioned high up in an adjacent tree. “We saw a spy in a tree,” he said, before thanking the rope technicians: “Thank you for keeping us safe, that was super.”

The relatively untouched valley is home to endangered orangutans, clouded leopards, elephants, sun bears and sambar deer. The royal couple, however, were not lucky enough to spot any of the rainforest's larger inhabitants.

They had earlier flown by helicopter to the jungle - recommended to them by Prince Charles - from Sabah's capital Kota Kinabalu.

William is a Fellow of the British Royal Society, which runs a research station dedicated to studying the rainforest in the Danum Valley.

During the trip they visited the station, where they were briefed on ongoing conservation activities in the area.

"Their trip to Sabah is focused on rainforest conservation. Going to Danum will provide them with a unique insight into it and also the work of the Royal Society," a British High Commission official told the media.

The Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak occupy the northern portion of the island of Borneo, which is shared with Indonesia and Brunei.

Borneo's unique biodiversity is threatened by logging, palm oil cultivation and other development that leads to deforestation. The Sabah rhino is just one species close to extinction, say forestry officials.

The young royals are touring the globe throughout 2012 as part of celebrations marking the 60-year reign of William's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.

William and Kate will this weekend move on to the Solomon Islands and later visit the island nation of Tuvalu.

There were no scheduled public functions until they leave for the Solomon Islands early Sunday, 16th September 2012, which coincides with Malaysia Day.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge learned about the topless photos on Friday, 14th September, 2012 while in Kuala Lumpur.

The royal couple immediately launched legal action for breach of privacy against the publishers of Closer magazine in France.

The editor of the French gossip magazine dismissed the suit and said the photographs of Kate sunning herself on a balcony wearing only bikini pants with her husband were "in no way degrading."

The magazine said the images were taken on September 5th, at the castle of Viscount Linley, a nephew of Queen Elizabeth.

The publication came one month after a British tabloid ran photographs of Prince Harry naked in a Las Vegas hotel.

God save the Queen.

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