Prince William starts Malta trip without pregnant Kate

Prince William Image copyright AP

This weekend was meant to have marked the next stage in the Duchess of Cambridge's on the job royal training - a solo visit abroad.

But the subtle shift in what she does will have to wait as a pregnant Kate continues to suffer, for a second time, from very acute morning sickness.

Prince William - who is becoming an old hand as he tiptoes towards his destiny - is stepping into the breach to the delight of the president of Malta.

Marie Louise Coleiro Preca told the BBC William's presence would give the 50th anniversary celebrations the "significance" that was needed. She also expressed the hope that he would return, next time, with Kate and George.

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Media captionMalta's president: We would like to see Prince with wife and son

With a future king at the heart of the events, this will be an occasion when the talk will be of the benefits of independence - Maltese, not Scottish.