Prince William visits China after tour of Japan

Prince William visits China's Forbidden City

Ni hao, Prince William! The Duke of Cambridge has arrived in China on official royal business. 

The prince was greeted by British ambassador Barbara Woodward on Sunday upon touching down in Beijing. On Monday, the second in line to the British throne began his full day of royal duties by launching into his round of public and promotional appearances on behalf of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.

The four-day trip comes on the heels of his tour of Japan that kicked off late last week.

Wills, who is the most senior royal to visit China since the queen and the Duke of Edinburgh did in 1986, began his day by touring the grounds of the Forbidden City with the site's vice director of foreign affairs, Zhang Yaoguang. 

There, he toured the picturesque 15th century imperial palace and posed for photographers in front of the complex's imposing Hall of Supreme Harmony.

Wills attended a sheep-painting ceremony at the ambassador's Beijing home to launch the year of cultural exchange between the two nations. During the ceremony, the duke lent a hand, completing the eyes of a Union Jack-decorated Shaun the Sheep sculpture, one of five cheeky statues made in honor of the Chinese year of the sheep that will later be auctioned off to benefit the Beijing Cultural Development Fund.

"It's not particularly stylish, but it will pass," he said after taking in his handiwork on the statue's eyes. (His wife, Catherine, was recently asked to put her artistic flourishes on a mural in Portsmouth.)

Later Monday, the duke met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People -- home of the country's congress -- in Beijing, where they spoke through an interpreter and discussed British-Chinese relations and their mutual love of soccer, Kensington Palace said.

The president offered his well wishes to the duke and his growing family. The duchess of Cambridge sat this trip out as she awaits the arrival of their second child, due in April.

When asked about his impression of the eastern nation, Wills said it was too early to tell and honed in on his earlier visit to the Forbidden City. 

"I have to say I was over-awed by the size, the scale and the sheer detail of much of the architecture there. It was phenomenal," he said. "I can now understand why so many U.K. nationals travel over here to come visiting.

"As I said to the president, you need almost an entire year to see all the interesting historical and cultural things that are in China."

William later signed a formal agreement marking the start of the Year of Cultural Exchange between Britain and China, the palace said.

The duke then flew south to Shanghai to launch the three-day Great Festival of Creativity at Shanghai's Long Museum to "show off the ability of British business to reinvent itself for new times and to rethink its relevance in new and changing markets." 

"This festival is a showcase and celebration of the creative strength of the British economy and the ingenuity of the British people," the prince said. "It is a platform not only for our famed and still thriving creative sectors, such as film, art and media, but it is also a platform for the creativity and inventiveness that British firms apply in a wide variety of sectors, like healthcare and education."

Follow me on Twitter @NardineSaad.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
88°