By Maria Puente, USA TODAY
Paradise can be hot, muggy and buggy, but for royal duo Will and Kate it's at least far away from topless photos, dueling lawyers and media recriminations back in dreary London.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, on day five of their Diamond Jubilee tour of Southeast Asia, stepped away from all that and into the past. They took a walk in paradise on the island of Borneo, exploring a rainforest that is 130 million years old and one of the last remaining bits of primeval tropical jungle left in the region.
The couple are in Sabah, one of the two states that make up the Malaysian portion of Borneo. Today they traveled by helicopter deep into the forest to Danum Valley, where the British Royal Society -- William is a Fellow and deeply interested in conservation -- runs a research station dedicated to studying the rainforest.
They were lifted up into the trees to view the jungle canopy from a canopy walkway, and even caught a glimpse of a mother, father and baby orangutans, the shy, endangered apes with the red-brown hair who live in the jungle. They had to deal with leeches -- she calmly picked one off her leg, according to the Telegraph -- and he jokingly labeled a photographer snapping them up in the canopy as a spy..
The couple were dressed for hiking, both in slim, khaki-colored pants, long-sleeved safari-style shirts and thick boots. No delicate designer dresses for this engagement.
On Sunday, they head for the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific -- even farther away from not-so-merry England, where a full-scale uproar is in full swing over surreptitiously-obtained topless photos of the duchess that were published Friday in a French celeb magazine.
The Cambridges are suing, the palace is fuming and the British and French tabloids are snarling at each other just like the British and French have snarled at each other for hundreds of years.
According to the especially outraged Daily Mail, it turns out the French mag, Closer, is owned by an Italian media group headed by Marina Berlusconi, the daughter of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, a man who knows topless-pix scandal so well he lost his job because of it. Now an Italian magazine owned by the Berlusconis has announced it will publish the pictures, too, and an Irish paper published them today.
Worse, the editor of the French magazine, Laurence Pieau, is claiming she has even more intimate pictures snapped during Will and Kate's brief holiday at a chateau in the south of France last weekend. Will more pictures surface?
Who wouldn't want to get away from all that. They still have about five days left on their tour.