The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s time in Bhutan ended on a high today – literally, as the royal couple took on one of the country’s toughest challenges and climbed to the 1,500 feet high Tiger’s Nest Monastery.
On their return to the base of the mountain, the Duke and Duchess stopped to talk to reporters about their experience. “It was amazing,” Prince William said. “Beautiful scenery, it was stunning to walk up there.”
“My father didn’t make it to be top,” he added jokingly. “So that’s something I’ll be reminding him of when I see him.” The Duke was of course referring to Prince Charles’s attempt to scale the mountain in 1998. The Prince of Wales did not make it all the way to the top because of his vertigo, but stopped at the halfway point and painted a watercolour of the region’s scenic beauty.
“It will be lovely if the children could come as well, definitely,” Kate said at the end of the hike. “We did actually see one family up there with a small child on their front. It was very brave of them. Maybe when they’re a bit more mobile, I think.” William later admitted that they had spoken to their children many times in the week that they have been away.
It was clear how much the young parents were missing their children, two year-old Prince George and eleven month-old Princess Charlotte, who have remained at home. During their descent, William stopped to buy a small bronze tiger for George, while Kate bought a pair of dark blue earrings.
The couple also stopped to talk to three trekkers from San Francisco, who had also climbed the mountain. “They were pretty altogether,” said Lauren McKennan, one of the trekkers. “There wasn’t a single trail of sweat. They stopped to talk to us for three to five minutes and were absolutely charming.”
Clad in boots, the Duke and Duchess took three hours to complete the climb, with the Duchess joking that “It’s a great way to burn off the curry.” They stopped at the halfway point for refreshments and to pose for pictures, before ascending the mountain again. The royal couple appeared to be very much in love as they walked hand-in-hand, smiling at each other in the solitude.
The pair stopped at the top to admire the breathtaking view of the Himalaya mountains. They spoke to a monk from the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, before entering the monastery for a private ceremony of lighting butter lamps. Prince William spun a prayer wheel as he walked past. Royal aides said the Duke and Duchess were “thrilled” at the chance to visit such a naturally beautiful and spiritual part of the country.
The Tiger’s Nest Monastery, or Paro Taktsang, was built on a cliff top in 1692. The monastery is located near the cave where Guru Padmasambhava, a spiritual leader who has been credited with introducing Buddhism to Bhutan, is said to have meditated for more than three years.
In the evening, Their Royal Highnesses attended a reception in Thimpu, which was meant for British nationals in Bhutan, and Bhutanese people with connections with the UK. This was their final engagement in Bhutan. Early tomorrow morning, the pair will fly back to India, where they will pay an iconic visit to the Taj Mahal before heading home.