London, Nov 25: Britain's Prince William is to visit China next year, though his pregnant wife Kate is thought unlikely to go with him, reports said on Monday. The Duke of Cambridge is due to visit early in 2015, but most likely without the duchess, newspapers and the BBC said.
She is expecting their second child in April and has been suffering from acute morning sickness. Buckingham Palace could not officially confirm the tour when contacted by AFP, saying only that no tour had been announced and news of any planned visits would be put out in the usual manner.
William, second in line to the throne behind his father Prince Charles, is due to visit New York with Kate from December 7 to 9.
The duke will also visit Washington. Britain is anxious to improve its trade ties with countries such as China. A high-profile tour by William, 32, would be viewed in Britain as an attempt to improve top-level diplomatic relations with Beijing. Charles has never visited mainland China, though he attended the handover of Hong Kong.
In a leaked diary, he described China's leaders at the 1997 ceremony as "appalling old waxworks", and he has been accused of deliberately side-stepping formal banquets on visits by Chinese leaders. Charles, 66, is also friendly with the Dalai Lama.
The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader is branded a terrorist by Beijing. Queen Elizabeth II, 88, and her husband Prince Philip toured China in 1986. It was on this visit that Prince Philip was overheard by a reporter making what became one of his most notorious remarks.
He was quoted as telling a group of British students in China: "If you stay here much longer, you will all be slitty-eyed". It was an apparent play on Chinese students in Britain often being told in jest not to stay away too long lest they go "round-eyed". Queen Elizabeth met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at Windsor Castle, west of London, in June.