As The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Royal Tour to Pakistan comes to a close, the royal couple spent their day in Lahore. The city is the second largest in Pakistan and the capital of the Punjab region. It is bustling and vibrant and is widely known across Pakistan as the country’s city of culture.
William and Kate travelled from the capital Islamabad to Lahore on the RAF Voyager aeroplane for their final full day of engagements. Kate looked stunning wearing a white shalwar kameez, embroidered with jasmine flowers – Pakistan’s national flower.
The Duke and Duchess were given a warm welcome at the airport by the Chief Minister of Punjab, Usman Buzdar and Governor of the Punjab, Mohammad Sarwar.
Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived on a day-long visit to Lahore today.
Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar and other high dignitaries warmly welcome them at Lahore Airport. #RoyalVisitPakistan pic.twitter.com/3qT0wbZmKz
— Govt of Pakistan (@pid_gov) October 17, 2019
The day of engagements began with a visit to the SOS Children’s Village, established in 1977. This is a charitable organisation in the heart of the city. It is the country’s largest child welfare organisation. It provides a home for over 150 orphaned girls and boys. The organisation promotes the development of children into happy, confident and resilient adults.
Here, the Duke and Duchess met some of the young people helped by the organisation. Parents to George, Charlotte and Louis seemed to be having a great deal of fun, playing with and entertaining the children at the centre. The Cambridges played with finger puppets much to the children’s amusement.
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) October 17, 2019
The royal couple joined a birthday party for three of the children at the Village. The lucky children who were able to celebrate their birthdays with the guests of honour were Iman, 12, Ibrahim, six, and Daniyal, who turned eight. Lots of fun was had by all, as everyone enjoyed party games, music, singing happy birthday and traditional Pakistani cake.
It was here that Kate, 37, made her first speech of the tour. She praised the work of the charity and spoke about the real meaning of family. The Duchess of Cambridge said: “Together as a village you are transforming children’s lives and providing them with strong foundations to support all their families. You have created a home where children are given love, protection and support that will enable them to have a fairer chance in life”.
Catherine thanked the centre for their hospitality in Urdu.
The next engagement allowed William and Kate to show their competitive side – they particularly enjoy competing against each other in sporting events, as we have seen many times. Today saw them both stepping up to the wicket as they visited the National Cricket Academy; cricket is the national sport of Pakistan.
The Duke and Duchess took time out to join a match with children who are participating in the British Council’s DOSTI programme. Dosti means ‘friendship’ in Urdu. The DOSTI programme promotes sport as an integral part of child development, and encourages social integration, increased self-esteem, and the development of important life skills in children.
Along with the children, William and Kate joined some of Pakistan’s top cricketing legends – including Shaheen Shah Afridi, along with potential stars of the future for a special game of cricket. The Duke showed himself to be a natural batsman. He scored a six (a boundary) off one ball. Kate changed into pumps and tied back her hair ready to show off her batting skills.
Later in the day was a visit to the Badshahi Mosque, built in the 17th century. The sandstone and marble mosque is the second largest in Pakistan, and can accommodate 10,000 worshippers. It is the most iconic Islamic site in Lahore, set in the heart of the Walled City.
The Royals were given a tour of the mosque and the courtyard. They were given a brief history of the building.
The Duke and Duchess joined a discussion with a group of religious leaders to understand how they are promoting peace and harmony amongst all faiths in their communities.
Before the discussion, a Prayer from the Holy Quran was read which the couple listened to intently.
The royal couple follow in the footsteps of both William’s parents. The future King visited the Holy Site almost 30 years after his mother, Diana. The Duke’s father, Prince Charles and his wife The Duchess of Cornwall visited the mosque in 2006.
As the Duke and Duchess were leaving the mosque, Honorary Consul Fakir Aijaz Uddin said: “If there’s one word to describe your visit it is ‘joy’. You have radiated joy wherever you have been.”
The last engagement of the day saw the Duke and Duchess spend time visiting the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre. The hospital was founded by Imran Khan, the ex-cricketer and now Pakistan’s Prime Minister, in 1994 in memory of his mother, Shaukat, who died from cancer in 1985. William and Kate met the Prime Minister formally on Tuesday.
During his mother’s illness, Khan saw the plight of poor cancer patients in his country’s hospitals and promised to build a facility that was accessible to all, regardless of money or social status. The hospital accepts around 10,000 new cancer patients every year. Approximately 75-80% of patients receive free treatment.
This was a poignant visit for Prince William, as he followed in the footsteps of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, who visited the state-of-the-art cancer facility in both 1996 and 1997. Diana visited in February 1996 in a private capacity to try to raise funds for the hospital. She had been advised not to travel to Pakistan due to political tensions.
During her visit she was photographed hugging a young patient receiving cancer treatment. She later said that this photo was one of her most cherished.
The Duke and Duchess visited the children’s ward to spend time with patients undergoing treatment, and to meet their families. Their Royal Highnesses comforted young children currently staying in the hospital. William and Kate met Muhammad Samir, a 5 year old, who is undergoing chemotherapy for Hodgkins Lymphoma. He told Prince William, as they were playing a fishing game, that he wants to be a soldier when he grows up.
Another of the children the royal couple met was Wafia Rehmani. She is a seven-year-old girl from Afghanistan with a kidney tumour. William and Kate took time to sit with her at her bedside to hold a toy tea party. Both the Duchess and Wafia wore matching sparkly toy tiaras. She wants to be a doctor when she grows up so had lots of fun showing the Cambridge’s her toy medical set.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were given a guided tour of the treatment facilities the hospital provides for both adults and children.
The Chief Medical Officer at the hospital, Dr Aasim Yusuf, who had guided the Princess around the hospital on both her visits, today showed her son and his wife around. He said: “It’s a great honour and a privilege for us to be welcoming Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge today. It’s a special honour that they have chosen to come and see our hospital.”
As the Cambridges were leaving, the centre they took the time to meet those who had waited outside to catch a glimpse of them.