Prince William and his bride Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, pose for an official photograph.

Prince William and his bride Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, on their wedding day. Photo: Reuters

Newlyweds Prince William and Catherine have begun their honeymoon, St James's Palace said, while trying to keep the couple's destination a closely guarded secret.

The royal newlyweds are hoping to keep their holiday private, in contrast to their fairytale April 29 wedding, watched by an estimated one million people on the London streets and two billion on television around the world.

Newspapers said they had flown to the Seychelles to stay on an isolated island. The pair took a week-long break there in August 2007.

The honeymoon is the first test of the British media's behaviour towards the couple, with the palace warning it will take action against news outlets if they pursue the newlyweds.

"They have left for their honeymoon," a spokesman for William's office said, adding that they went "earlier this week".

On their destination, St James's Palace will only say that it is "abroad".

"We are not confirming and we are not commenting on speculation on where they may be going on their private honeymoon. We are just confirming that they have gone," the spokesman said.

"The couple have asked that their privacy be respected during their honeymoon."

William, 28, has two weeks' leave from his job in the Royal Air Force, the palace added.

The prince, second in line to the throne, is a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot on the island of Anglesey, northwest Wales.

The flight lieutenant went back to work after the wedding and has since been involved in rescues, including airlifting a judge who suffered a heart attack in the Snowdonia mountains.

The delayed honeymoon appeared to be an attempt at throwing the media off their trail amid fears that photographers would pursue the couple wherever they chose to spend their holiday.

The prince said he enjoyed outfoxing the media after his stag weekend was held in total privacy.

Royal watchers say he has an inherent hatred of paparazzi following the death of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, who was killed in a car crash in 1997 as she was pursued through Paris by photographers.

The two-week honeymoon will be a test of Britain's newspapers as to whether they obtain - and use - pictures of the couple, now known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

It comes amid public debate in Britain over press freedom and privacy rights, with newspapers in a fury over super-injunctions which prevent them from publishing stories about celebrities' private lives.

News of the honeymoon also comes after tabloid newspapers published photographs of Catherine's sister Pippa Middleton relaxing on a yacht in a bikini.

The Middleton family have gone to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), the voluntary regulatory body which oversees Britain's newspapers, about the images printed on Sunday and Monday.

Taken in 2006, the pictures showed William, Catherine, her sister Pippa and their mother Carole in swimwear on board a private yacht moored off the Spanish party island of Ibiza.

The News of the World showed Pippa topless.

A PCC spokesman said: "I can confirm that we've now received complaints from representatives of the Middleton family concerning photographs that were published in the News of the World, The Mail on Sunday, the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror and that we're now considering those complaints."

Taking the two-week honeymoon now gives the couple plenty of time to get ready for their first official overseas tour.

The couple are due to visit Canada from June 30 to July 8, followed by two days touring California.

AFP

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