Britain’s Prince William followed in the footsteps of his late mother, Princess Diana, with a trip to Lahore yesterday with his wife Kate.
Security was high in the metropolis of around 10mn people, with thousands of troops, paramilitary guards and police personnel securing the royal route.
The royals were given a red-carpet reception by the Punjab governor and chief minister on their arrival in the city.
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Bazdar told the couple that their visit “will further strengthen relations between the two countries”.
The couple had arrived in Pakistan on Monday for a five-day trip.
The royal couple kicked off their fourth day in Pakistan with a visit to the SOS Children’s Village orphanage, where Kate gave a brief speech along with a short greeting in Urdu and celebrated children’s birthdays.
“Earlier this year I talked about the fact that it takes a village to raise a child. The village we’ve seen here today is the best representation of that ideal that I could have possibly imagined,” she said.
The royal couple later took to the crease at the National Cricket Academy, where they both hit a few runs as they played alongside a host of current and former cricket stars, including current bowling coach Waqar Younis, and former captains of the Pakistan men and women’s teams, Azhar Ali and Sana Mir.
They were gifted cricket bats for their three children by the head of Pakistan’s cricket board.
After an outfit change, the duo headed to Lahore’s famous Badshahi Mosque – one of the world’s largest.
William sported a cream-coloured linen suit and Kate donned a light green shalwar kameez, wrapping her hair in a matching headscarf and walking in stockinged feet.
William’s mother, the late Princess Diana, caused a controversy at the same mosque in 1991 when she wore an above-the-knee dress, sparking a backlash from some Muslim leaders who argued that she should have covered up.
The couple rounded off the trip with a visit to the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, founded by Prime Minister Imran Khan, where Diana is remembered fondly for helping raise money for the facility in the 1990s.
Kensington Palace has called the Cambridges’ five-day trip, which ends today, their “most complex” tour to date as the royals seek to boost ties between the UK and the second largest country in the Commonwealth.
The couple have spent much of the trip promoting various causes, from girls’ education to conservation and climate change awareness as they criss-crossed the country.
Security has improved dramatically since the army intensified a crackdown on militant groups in 2015, with several countries changing their travel warnings for Pakistan as a result.
There are promising signs, such as the British Airways return earlier this year after more than a decade, and the slow but steady revival of international cricket.
The Pakistan government hopes the royal couple’s official visit will boost the country’s image as a tourist and business destination, after decades of sectarian violence and political unrest.
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