Prince William Retraces Mother’s Steps in Asia

The British royal is on an official trip to Japan and China

ByABC News
February 27, 2015, 9:55 AM

— -- Britain’s Prince William arrived in Tokyo in the rain Thursday, making a trip similar to the one made by his mother 20 years ago.

William, 32, waved to fans on Tokyo Bay and laid a wreath at the Yokohama War Cemetery to commemorate the fallen from World War II.

The prince is traveling without his wife, Duchess Kate, who is expecting the couple’s second child in April.

Prince William Strikes a Friendly Contrast to Japan's Prince

It was 20 years ago when his mother, the late Princess Diana of Wales, made a similar solo trip to Japan, surrounded by fans in what came to be known as, “Diana fever.”

“Over 100,000 people turned out to see her,” Patrick Jephson, Diana’s former private secretary, told ABC News.

“A few years before that she went with Prince Charles,” Jephson said. “Both visits very successful. Both very influential.”

While in Tokyo, Prince William met with one of Japan’s most famous astronauts, Soichi Noguchi, and revealed he once dreamed of being an astronaut.

“When I was younger, I dreamed of being an astronaut, but I also wanted to be a policeman or a fire-breather. That might have been a bit alternative,” said William, who instead chose a career as a helicopter pilot.

William’s next stop after Tokyo will be China, where he is not a household name.

On the eve of William’s arrival, however, China surprisingly announced that it will ban the import of elephant ivory products for one year, a change for which the prince has been advocating for years.

The last Royal trip to China came almost 30 years ago when William’s grandparents, Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth, visited the country.