ISLAMABAD: Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton on Friday left for the United Kingdom after completing a 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 in Rawalpindi by British High Commissioner Thomas Drew and other officials.
Earlier in the day, a plane carrying the 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.
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 has been called off due to lack of time. According to Reuters, the couple will visit an army canine training school in Islamabad before departing later in the day.
THE ROYAL SAGA:
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 the 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 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 center and wished the kids ‘happy birthday’ in Urdu.
Afterward, 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.