Duchess of Cambridge visits Luxembourg to mark 150 years of neutrality

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BRITAIN-ROYALS/

The Duchess of Cambridge will visit Luxembourg today to attend commemorations marking the 150th anniversary of a treaty that confirmed the country's independence and neutrality.

Kate will spend one day in the capital city of the Grand Duchy, touring an exhibition of British artists and visiting a cycling-themed festival, but the main focus will be events celebrating the 1867 Treaty of London.

The visit is likely to be interpreted as another trip being made by a member of the Royal Family in their role as ''Brexit Ambassadors'', as they have been dubbed by the press.

Kate visited Paris in March with William in what was seen as the first in a series of European tours by the monarchy to strengthen ties with the continent.

In July the Cambridges will visit Poland and one of the leading EU nations, Germany.

Kate will join Luxembourg's prime minister Xavier Bettel at the Drai Eechelen Museum for an event commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Treaty of London.

The Duchess will be given a guided tour of Luxembourg 1867 - Open City, a new exhibition which explains how the dismantling of Luxembourg's fortifications laid the foundation for the transformation of the state into an open and outward-looking city and country.

At Luxembourg City Museum Kate will attend the launch of a new collection telling the country's history to mark the 150th anniversary, and she will be led on a short walk outside the museum to take in the stunning views of the capital.

Luxembourg is only a small country but over the decades has become a thriving financial centre after suffering the depression of its iron and steel industries.

The country's strategic place between France, Belgium and Germany, and proximity to the Netherlands, has meant it has been at the heart of territorial ambitions of a number of states for centuries.

In the mid-19th century things came to a head when a crisis developed over France's plans to buy the Grand Duchy from the Netherlands's William III, whose forebears had governed it.

But when Prussia, whose garrison still occupied the fortress of Luxembourg, objected, the powers met in London.

Once known as the Gibraltar of the North, its fortress was dismantled under the treaty signed on May 11 1867, the garrison withdrew and the Grand Duchy was declared perpetually neutral under the guarantee of the signatory powers.

During her trip Kate will also visit an exhibition by British artists Sir Tony Cragg and Darren Almond and attend a reception with leading young people from the worlds of culture, education, business and the charitable sector.

The Duchess will tour a cycling-themed festival and unveil a mural to one of Britain's greatest cyclists Tom Simpson - who died while racing in the Tour de France - as a mural is unveiled of Luxembourg's cycling great Charly Gaul.

Kate will also call on Luxembourg's monarch and head of state Grand Duke Henri and his wife Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, who were guests at the Cambridges' wedding in 2011.

The trip will be the Duchess's second official solo overseas visit, following her successful trip to the Netherlands last October.