LAHORE: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Prince William and Princess Kate Middleton had a busy trip to Lahore as they played cricket, attended a birthday party, met young cancer patients and spent time in the historic Badshahi Masjid on the fourth day of their Pakistan tour on Thursday.
Kate Middleton poured her heart out at the SOS Children Village, saying it was inspiring to see the positivity and the family-like support to help transform the lives of many children. “William and I found that family is at the heart of Pakistan’s culture and that reminded us what a family really means,” she commented.
Referring to her thoughts about raising a child, she noted: “The SOS Village being seen here is the best representation and idea that I could have possibly imagined.”
The royal couple also cut a birthday at the SOS Village. Kate Middleton expressed her wishes in Urdu, saying “Saalgirah Mubarak (happy birthday)”, and William thanked, saying “Shukriya (thank you)”.
The couple later arrived at the National Cricket Academy to play friendly cricket with children from British Council’s “Dosti” programme as well as men and women cricketers of the Pakistan national team.
While Prince William was wearing jeans, shirt and joggers, Kate Middleton came to the ground wearing white embroidered kameez and trousers and a pair of plimsolls. The royal couple was cheered on by children sitting in the stands.
The highlight was Prince William hitting a very friendly Hassan Ali for a six. Princess Kate Middleton faced a number of deliveries from former captain of Pakistan national women’s cricket team Sana Mir.
The royal couple interacted with the team members, kids and national cricketers, including Waqar Younas who acted as the umpire during the game.
Upon their arrival at Badshahi Masjid, historian and writer Fakir Syed Aijazuddin and prayer leader Abdul Khabeer Azad welcomed the royal couple and briefed them on the history of the mosque and Mughal architecture. An 1800-foot-long red carpet was rolled out to welcome the guests.
Princess Kate was dressed in a green shalwar-kameez and headscarf during her visit to the iconic mosque, and Prince William wore a cream linen suit. Inside the mosque, the royal couple interacted with members of different communities in an interfaith dialogue which was also attended by representatives of minorities, including MNA Dr Ramesh Kumar, former MPA Ramesh Singh Arora and Bishop Sarfraz Peter.
The couple expressed admiration for the grandeur of the mosque’s design and the serenity it exuded. Maulana Azad read out some verses from the Holy Quran which were translated in English. He told Prince William about the visits by his father Prince Charles in 2006 and mother Princess Diana in 1996 to this mosque. The Duke responded that his family had an old bond with the mosque and his (Maulana Azad’s) family. The prayer leader also presented the couple a painting of Badshahi Masjid and white shawls. The royal couple later visited Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital and spoke to the children undergoing treatment there as well as their relatives.
The royal couple were received by Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar and Chief Minister Usman Buzdar at Lahore airport earlier in the day. The guests set off for Islamabad in the evening. However, the plane came back to Lahore airport owing to bad weather in Islamabad. The royal guests were escorted to the Governor’s House for overnight stay.
Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2019