Ride the royal bus tour of Kate Middleton's life

Mon Feb 21, 2011 2:43pm EST
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By Martin Veal

LONDON (Reuters) - The seats were mostly taken by the press and the only "tourists" were a few interested locals, but the bus tour around the hometown of British Prince William's fiancee Kate Middleton kicked off over the weekend.

The ride organized by bus tour operator Morton Travel around the sights of Royal Berkshire provides a glimpse of Middleton's not-so-ordinary upbringing.

The journey takes in Middleton's childhood homes, former schools, the church where she was baptized, and even the "The Old Boot Inn" where she has taken Prince William for a tipple.

The Middletons are regulars at "The Old Boot Inn" pub and landlord John Hayley is one of the lucky few to have been invited to the royal couple's April 29th wedding and happily showed his invitation to those on the Sunday tour when the bus made the first of many planned stops along the route.

Bus tour company owner Adrian Morton told Reuters outside the pub that the original plan was to create a local tour for regular customers, but discovered there was interest in it from around the globe.

"We wanted to do something for our local clientele, just as something to do in the early part of our year as an excursion," Morton said. "It was then picked up by people in the press and it sort of snowballed from there really."

He said he has had a number of enquiries from the United States, Canada, Japan, as well as Sweden and Germany.

As the tourists and the press pack settled back on the bus following a refreshment stop, Hilda Hewletts, from Basingstoke, who was on the sightseeing trip with husband Terence, was one of the few passengers willing to speak freely to the press and explained why they had turned out for the tour.   Continued...

<p>Tour guide Charmian Griffiths holds up a magazine clipping of Britain's Prince William and his fiancee Kate Middleton during a bus tour highlighting areas of Berkshire where Middleton grew up, in Bradfield February 20, 2011. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty</p>