Prince William, Kate leave for UK after completing 5-day trip of Pakistan

Updated – October 18, 2019

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, departs Islamabad, October 18. — Reuters
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, departs Islamabad, October 18. — Reuters

Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton on Friday left for the United Kingdom after completing their eventful five-day visit of Pakistan, the first royal trip to the country in more than a decade.

They were seen off at the Nur Khan Airbase by British High Commissioner Thomas Drew and other officials.

The couple — the Duchess wearing shalwar kameez in black and white, after highlighting the traditional Pakistani dress throughout the trip — boarded the Royal Air Force Voyager plane, waving for the cameras one last time before departing.

Before leaving, the royal couple visited the Army Canine Centre in Islamabad, where Britain provides support to a programme that trains dogs to identify explosive devices.

At the facility, Prince William while speaking to journalists highlighted the importance of his country’s security ties with Pakistan, according to Rebecca English, a royal correspondent for Daily Mail UK.

He was quoted as saying: “The whole week we have been hearing about security in Pakistan and it’s really brought home to Catherine and I the importance of the relationship between the UK and Pakistan.”

Prince William and Kate play with golden labrador puppies Salto and Sky as they visit an Army Canine Centre in Islamabad. — Reuters
Prince William and Kate play with golden labrador puppies Salto and Sky as they visit an Army Canine Centre in Islamabad. — Reuters

The Duke noted that the people of Pakistan have lost many lives in the effort to secure the country.

“Those sacrifices from the Pakistanis should be acknowledged,” Prince William said. “Actually what happens here in Pakistan directly correlates to what happens on the streets of the UK.”

Earlier in the day, a plane carrying the British royal couple had safely landed in Islamabad, hours after two failed landing attempts in bad weather forced them to fly back to Lahore.

The duke and duchess of Cambridge ended up staying the night at a hotel in Lahore before finally flying back to Islamabad on Friday morning, according to British royal correspondents on board their plane.

There has been no statement yet from Kensington Palace on Thursday’s mid-air drama, which reportedly saw the Royal Air Force pilot circle for at least an hour during a fierce thunderstorm that hit Islamabad, before finally abandoning the attempt and returning to Lahore.

It came after the royals spent a busy day in Lahore, during which they played cricket, visited a children’s orphanage and a cancer hospital, and toured the iconic Badshahi Mosque.

“It was pretty bumpy up there,” the Daily Mail‘s English quoted the Duchess of Cambridge as saying.

“If I’m honest … that was the most nervous I’ve ever felt in a plane,” said ITV royal correspondent Chris Ship, who was on board.

‘Unmitigated success’

Thursday’s mid-air drama did not appear to dampen the royal couple’s spirits, with the press pack reporting that William — himself a pilot — had joked with them shortly after that he had been the one flying the plane.

Britain's Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, depart from Lahore airport on Friday. — Reuters
Britain’s Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, depart from Lahore airport on Friday. — Reuters

However, the delay meant the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had to reschedule their engagements for today, the last day of their five-day tour.

According to Britain’s Press Association, William and Kate were due to fly over the Khyber Pass bordering Afghanistan in an engagement on Friday, but a “pretty bad storm” saw their flight turn back on Thursday evening.

The royal couple’s visit to the Khyber Pass was called off due to lack of time.

Analysts said the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s visit would help boost Pakistan’s image.

“In terms of Pakistan’s positive international image, the visit has been an unmitigated success,” said Rifat Hussain, analyst and a former professor at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, though he said there had been some complaints from Pakistanis about the huge security operation around the trip.

Royal visit

The duke and duchess arrived in Islamabad for their maiden visit to Pakistan on Monday night. Their second day was a busy one, which started with a visit to a girl’s college in the capital and then Margalla Hills, where they attended an event regarding environmental protection. The couple was hosted by President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan at the Aiwan-i-Sadr and Prime Minister House, respectively.

In the evening, they attended a star-studded reception, hosted by British High Commissioner to Pakistan Thomas Drew, at the National Monument where William, in his first official address, paid tribute to all the people who “endured sacrifice and helped build Pakistan to the country it is today”.

On the third day of their trip, the royals paid a visit to Chitral district to observe the effect of climate change in the region.

During the visit, the couple flew to the Baroghil Valley National Park in the extreme north and the Bumburate Valley in the south where they mingled with the Kalasha community.

 

Upon reaching the Bumburate Valley, the couple was given a red-carpet reception by the Kalasha community — led by MPA Wazir Zada — from where they drove to a number of sites devastated by flash floods in 2015. The royal couple was told about the causes of the natural disasters in the region.

On Thursday, they arrived in Lahore where they were welcomed by Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and Governor Chaudhry Sarwar.

They later visited the SOS Children’s Village, where they took part in a storytelling session and interacted with the staff and children. Kate also delivered a short address at a birthday party held for three children at the centre and wished the kids ‘happy birthday’ in Urdu.

 

Afterwards, the duke and duchess went to the National Cricket Academy where both of them tried their hand at batting.

William and Kate also toured the iconic Badshahi Mosque and later joined a discussion on interfaith harmony with religious leaders. The royal couple then visited the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, where they were welcomed by the hospital’s CEO Dr Faisal Sultan and other senior officials.

At the hospital, they met children suffering from cancer and also visited the department hosting the hospital’s radiation machine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *