Inside Wills and Kate’s private retreat

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iol travel feb 13 mistique screenshot . Screenshot of www.mustique-island.com

London - It is one of the most sumptuous villas on one of the most exclusive paradise islands in the world.

And, for the moment, this luxury £5-million house on Mustique is home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – as they take a “babymoon” break before the birth of their first child.

Nestled amid lush tropical gardens, with dramatic views of the aquamarine Caribbean waters lapping a tranquil white-sand beach, this five-bedroom house normally costs £19,000 (about R230 000) a week to rent.

But it is not known whether the multi-millionaire owners, close friends of both the Royal couple and the wider Middleton family, are charging them for the stay.

The dream home is furnished with Oriental antiques and comes with a staff of six servants, who oversee such amenities as a private cinema, gazebo and 64ft infinity pool.

During the lavish trip, the Duchess has been seen every day at the tennis courts on the privately owned island. However, she has been cheering from the sidelines rather than playing, as she has done on previous trips. Although she is four months pregnant, locals say the Duchess’s baby bump is hardly showing.

iol travel feb 13 caribbean Nestled amid lush tropical gardens, with dramatic views of the aquamarine Caribbean waters lapping a tranquil white-sand beach. AFP

“They’re having a very quiet, peaceful holiday, which is just what Kate needed,” a long-time island resident said. “I’d heard they were planning to leave on Thursday but that they are enjoying themselves so much, they may stay until after Valentine’s Day.”

The couple have been joined by the Duchess’s sister Pippa, brother James and parents, Carole and Michael. The Middletons rented accommodation nearby to give the couple some privacy.

Last Thursday night, all the Middletons, except Kate, visited Firefly, a fashionable bistro and guest house that has become a favourite of various young Royals, including William’s cousin, Zara Phillips, who used to drink there in her single days. But Royal links to Mustique go back to 1960, when Princess Margaret was given a ten-acre estate there. The Queen and Prince Philip have also made several visits to the island.

An unprecedented veil of secrecy has been drawn over William and Kate’s visit, and The Mail on Sunday has decided not to reveal the names of the villa’s owners or the property’s location because of security concerns.

One American businesswoman, who is a regular visitor to the island, said: “The owners are an absolutely lovely pair and their villa is stunning.

“It is perfect for William and Kate because it is luxurious and secluded. It is just what they need before the fervour of a newborn baby. I imagine they are on their guard after Kate was photographed topless in France, but there is no chance of that happening in Mustique.”

The island has rigorous entry requirements, which make it almost impossible for paparazzi to snoop on rich and famous villa owners, who include rockers Bryan Adams and Sir Mick Jagger, fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger and Jigsaw clothing chain founder John Robinson.

Mr Robinson, who once employed Kate as a buyer, lent his villa to the couple for their first trip to Mustique, in 2006.

The businesswoman said the villa’s owners – who went to William and Kate’s wedding – met the young Royals on Mustique’s casual social scene.

“On the island, everyone is in a good mood, enjoying rum punch cocktails and having parties, so that’s how the two couples met,” she said. “About four years ago, they got chatting and became friends. They happened to be visiting the island at the same time.

“People on the island are so happy to have Kate and William because they are so much in love, especially after what happened to Charles and Diana.”

During six previous visits to the 1,400-acre island, William and Kate established a routine of vigorous sports – beach volleyball and Frisbee, tennis and water-skiing.

“Kate is very good on the tennis court, down to earth, humble and eager to chat with people, similar to Diana,” said the businesswoman. In the evenings, the couple would mingle with other villa owners over “sundowner” cocktails at Firefly or Basil’s Bar, owned by Basil Charles, a flamboyant entrepreneur who was a protege of both the island’s founder, the late peer Lord Glenconner, and Princess Margaret.

“Kate’s favourite tipple was the Sunset Premium, a pina colada flavoured with local rum,” recalled a Mustique source who, because of the island’s rules against press interviews, spoke on condition of anonymity.

He added that the Prince’s “poison” was vodka and cranberry juice.

The couple’s security detail would watch discreetly at Basil’s waterfront establishment, where William is known for his performances of Elvis Presley numbers on karaoke nights. On one memorable evening, Kate danced with Basil.

“He was boasting about it afterwards. She has that personable touch, very beautiful and magnificent,” said the businesswoman.

“Kate’s parents are lovely too. They have been going to Mustique for years, although there is a hierarchical system on the island, so they are still considered part of the new society.”

Acquaintances of the couple declined to discuss their latest holiday schedule with The Mail on Sunday.

While they have been on Mustique, the island has staged its annual Blues Festival, organised by Basil Charles and the British singer Dana Gillespie. Asked if the Duke and Duchess attended, Mr Charles said: “I would not speak about them.”

However, he added that the event attracted other celebrities, including Ronnie Wood. The 65-year-old Rolling Stone cut short his honeymoon with his third wife, Sally Humphreys, 34, on Sir Richard Branson’s nearby Necker Island, to jam at the festival.

British publisher Felix Dennis, who owns one of the island’s showiest villas, Mandalay, also delighted a crowd of 400 one evening. “He sang Johnny B. Goode,” said Mr Charles.

Friends of the villa’s owners told The Mail on Sunday that the couple are “immensely proud” of their friendship with the Duke and Duchess.

One pal said: “They are quite private people and, even though everyone knew they had been invited to Kate and William’s wedding, they didn’t really talk about it much. The impression was that they didn’t want to betray a close friendship.”

A Clarence House spokesman for the Duke and Duchess declined to comment. - Mail On Sunday

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