ISLAMABAD – Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton arrived in Pakistan on Monday on a five-day visit, the first royal trip to the country in more than a decade, and the first for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The royal couple was welcomed by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his wife after their airplane landed at the Nur Khan Airbase near the capital. British High Commissioner in Pakistan Thomas Drew was also present on the occasion.
The five-day visit, which will end on October 18, has been organised at the request of the United Kingdom’s (UK) Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Foreign Minister Qureshi, while speaking to the media at Nur Khan Airbase earlier, recounted the past visits to Pakistan by members of the British royal family.
He said Pakistanis still recognise Prince William’s mother Princess Diana for her humanitarian work, especially her fund-raising efforts for the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, which was built by now Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Dawn reported.
Qureshi said that the couple will travel across the country and meet various people.
This is the first royal tour to the country since 2006 when Prince Charles and Camilla, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, travelled to Pakistan.
Earlier, in a video message shared on Twitter, British High Commissioner Thomas Drew, said that during the visit, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will cover the “breadth and depth” of the country.
He said the royal visit, the first in 13 years, would largely focus on showcasing Pakistan as a dynamic, aspirational and forward-looking nation.
The royal couple will visit Islamabad, Lahore and Chitral in the north-west Pakistan before flying back to London.
The High Commissioner said that the couple hopes to meet as many Pakistanis as possible, particularly the youth who are shaping the future of the country.
He said the couple wanted to build a lasting friendship with the people of Pakistan.
Last week, Kensington Palace characterised the October 14-18 visit as the most complex the royal couple have been a part of due to the security considerations in the region.
The Sunday Telegraph reported that more than 1,000 police personnel will secure the tour as the couple begin the visit, which follows on the request of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to strengthen the “extensive” links between Britain and Pakistan.
Pakistani officials said the itinerary of their five-day stay was being tightly guarded by the military, with local media only being told details at the last minute.
During the tour, the royals are set to visit programmes which empower young people, and organisations that help ensure they have the best possible start in life.
Access to quality education, particularly to girls and young women is seen as one of the UK’s top priorities in Pakistan and the royals will spend time meeting young Pakistanis, and hearing more about their aspirations for the future.
According to local media reports, the royal couple will meet Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi on October 15 and after meeting them, they will go to Lahore on October 16, arriving a day later in Chitral.