LONDON: Britain’s Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, meet a schoolgirl as they visit the Aga Khan Centre on Wednesday. The royals attended an event hosted by Prince Karim Aga Khan, where they engaged with members of the Pakistani community. The Duke and the Duchess of Cambridge are scheduled to pay an official visit to Pakistan from Oct 14 to 18.—Reuters
LONDON: Britain’s Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, meet a schoolgirl as they visit the Aga Khan Centre on Wednesday. The royals attended an event hosted by Prince Karim Aga Khan, where they engaged with members of the Pakistani community. The Duke and the Duchess of Cambridge are scheduled to pay an official visit to Pakistan from Oct 14 to 18.—Reuters

THE Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Wednesday attended an event hosted by Prince Karim Aga Khan at the Aga Khan Centre in Kings Cross, where they engaged with members of the Pakistani community ahead of their official visit to Pakistan from Oct 14 to 18.

Prince Karim received the royal couple at the entrance to the venue, where they were seen exchanging pleasantries and talking about the upcoming visit to Pakistan. At the end of the event, the couple was accompanied by the Aga Khan as well as Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK, Nafees Zakaria.

Kate Middleton was wearing a deep green dress, with earrings by a Pakistani clothing and accessories designer Zeen.

The Aga Khan Centre boasts a collection of gardens, courtyards and terraces, which provide an insight into the diversity and influence of Islamic landscape design around the world and through history.

“This is an opportunity for their highnesses to come to the Aga Khan Centre, which is an important building here in London,” said Mahmood Ahmed, chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in the UK. “This building promotes the notions of pluralism and also represents our network which does a lot of work in the developing world.”

“We have a special relationship with Pakistan, but because of their royal highnesses’ upcoming visit there, we decided to invite them here so they could meet the Pakistani diaspora and people from different walks of life based here in the UK,” he said, adding that the guests included people from Pakistan who had made their homes here and excelled.

“It introduces them [Kate and William] to Pakistan. It gives them an opportunity to talk a little bit to people from there and to get a flavour of where they are going.”

British-Pakistani businessman Aneel Mussarat, who was invited by the Pakistan mission, said it was a good event.

Organisers said the event was held especially to showcase Pakistani culture and heritage to the royal couple and was attended by prominent members from the fields of arts and culture, business, community development, entertainment, and music from the UK and Pakistan. Members of the diplomatic community, including Mr Zakaria and the High Commissioner of the UK Thomas Drew CBE, also attended the event.

The Aga Khan is the founder and chairman of the AKDN, a group of development agencies which works to improve the living conditions of people in Africa, South and Central Asia and the Middle East. The network is active in over 30 countries, including Pakistan, and is involved in initiatives ranging from education, health, economic development to culture.

British-Pakistani chef Saliha Mahmood Ahmed, who won Master Chef 2017, later posted on Twitter, saying: “An absolute career highlight! Meeting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, prior to their tour of Pakistan! Was able to design a Pakistani themed lunch menu.”

Kensington Palace, the official Twitter account for the royal couple, tweeted saying they met a range of British Pakistanis including DJ and Producer Naughty Boy, table virtuoso Shahbaz Hussain, flute maestro Muhammad Noman and musician Maha Malik.

Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2019