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Belgium royals inspired by the beauty of China

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Standing before one of China's most fascinating historical monuments, Belgium's Princess Mathilde and her husband Philippe must have felt they'd been transported back in time. The royal couple were touring the impressive 16th-century Imperial Palace of Shenyang in the north east of the country - the only existing royal palace outside of the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Featuring more than 300 rooms built around 20 courtyards, the imposing structure so inspired Philippe he whipped out a digital camera and began snapping enthusiastically.

During their ten-day official trip to China, the royal couple have received a warm, colourful reception wherever they have touched down. At one country school mother-of-three Mathilde was surrounded by a throng of kids and, with her natural flair for handling little ones, she quickly got into the spirit of things joining in the classroom activities and chatting with pupils.

As the pair are on a mission to underline trade ties between the two nations the princess has spent quite a lot of time checking out diamonds. With the number of home-grown millionaires on the rise, China is one of the fastest growing markets for sparklers from the Antwerp World Diamond Centre. And at Beijing University she browsed jewellery created by Chinese designers using Belgian-produced stones. The royals are due to move on to Hong Kong, where they'll stay for three days, before flying home.

Photo: ©
The couple pose in front of the city's Imperial Palace, one of only two royal residences remaining in China. The other is the Forbidden City in BeijingPhotos: © AFPy
Photo: ©
The colourful images of the princess and her husband will add a splash of brilliant colour to the royal photo albumPhotos: © AFP
Photo: ©
Mathilde, who has a knack for getting on with youngsters, joined in with the classroom activities at a country schoolPhotos: © AFP

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