Britain's Prince William is making the first official visit to mainland China by a senior British royal in a generation, testing his diplomatic mettle as the second in line to the throne.

After visiting the Forbidden City in Beijing where emperors once resided, William will meet Monday with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, the seat of China's legislature.

William arrived in Beijing late Sunday after a four-day stay in Japan. He will travel later Monday to Shanghai and round off his visit to China on Wednesday in the southwest near the border with Myanmar.

Interest in his visit among Chinese was expected to be limited without the presence of wife Kate, who is expecting their second child next month.