Princess Diana in New Zealand
As Catherine Middleton touches down in Ottawa, Canada for her first royal tour today, Princess Diana in her own words about her own 'traumatic' baptism of fire overseas and why this time the royals have got it right.
Diana spoke to me at length about her memories of what she called 'the real hard crunch' of her first six week visit to Australia and New Zealand in the spring of 1983.
"It was hot, I was jet-lagged, being sick. I was too thin. The whole world was focusing on me every day. I was in the front of the papers. It was so appalling, I hadn't done something specific like climb Everest."
She returned from her first engagement at a school in Alice Springs in the heart of Australia and cried her eyes out, overwhelmed at the attention. She told her lady-in-waiting Anne Beckwith-Smith: ' Anne, I've got to go home. I can't cope with this.' That first week was such a traumatic week for me. I learned to be royal in one week, I was thrown in at the deep end. Nobody helped me at all. They'd be there to criticize me but never there to say: 'Well done.'
Her chief critic was her husband who was jealous of her popularity, the crowds of well-wishers groaning if Prince Charles walked down their side of the street rather than Diana.
As she recalled: 'Obviously he wasn't used to that and nor was I. He took it out on me. He was jealous. I understand the jealousy but I couldn't explain that I didn't ask for it. I kept saying you've married someone and whoever you'd have married would have been of interest for the clothes, how she handles this, that and the other. He didn't see that at all. '
When Diana and Charles returned from that first tour she was a different person. 'I was more grown up, more mature.'
A generation and a lifetime later, it seems the royal planners have learned a lesson from that first lengthy overseas visit by Charles and Diana.
For a start the two week visit to Canada and California is relatively brief and has a mix of the solemn and fun, the couple celebrating Canada Day in the nation's capital, taking part in a dragonboat race in Prince Edward Island and opening the Calgary stampede which will be an opportunity for William to show off his ten gallon hat.
Hopefully Catherine will escape the exhaustion that Diana suffered from during her visit. As for the jealousy factor, William is as big a draw as his bride. Still suffused with the aura of his mother and a relatively unknown quantity - by the time Charles visited Australia with Diana he had toured on numerous occasions - he is a star in his own right.
But with 1400 media following in her wake, the newly minted Duchess of Cambrige may well reflect, as Diana did 28 years ago; "What did I do to deserve this?"
Her one regret might be not taking a lady in waiting to help with the armfuls of flowers she will be given on walkabouts - and making sure that her various hosts receive a prompt thank you note.