After two vastly successful days of engagements in Mumbai and Delhi, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge began the third day of their tour of India and Bhutan at a train station in Delhi, where they observed the work done by the Salaam Baalak Trust.
Salaam Baalak (“Salute the child” in English) is a charity that helps homeless children by providing them with food, shelter and education. The organisation was started 28 years ago by 85 year-old Praveen Nair, who was present to meet the Duke and Duchess, and was impressed by their hands-on approach. “It’s really very heartening to see well-to-do people are aware of the problems and they come and see it for themselves,” Mrs Nair said. “It was a revelation to see that they were like anyone else, like you or I. They didn’t say ‘Oh it’s dirty’ or refuse to shake people’s hands.”
In fact, both William and Catherine actively participated in the children’s activities. William joined a group of boys for a game of carrom, while Catherine sat down on the floor and drew pictures with the children. Some of the boys asked her to draw her home, and the ever obliging Duchess drew a picture of a large house with a slanted roof and chimney – probably Anmer Hall.
Shansad Abdul, 12, ran away from home because his parents were unable to support him. He was seated closest to the Duchess, and helped her colour in the sun and clouds in her picture. “I liked doing it with her very much and I learnt how to draw trees and greenery,” he said afterwards. “She was a very good lady and very happy to sit and draw with me.”
Before leaving, the Duke asked the charity’s director, Sanjoy Roy: “What can we do to help?” Mr Roy told him that the best thing they could do was “Spread the word. People think of them as street kids, beggars, thieves but they are just children.”
Later in the afternoon, Their Royal Highnesses joined Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for lunch at Hyderabad House, a former palace in New Delhi. The trio smiled and chatted, posing for photographs before going indoors.
According to a spokesperson for Prince William, the Duke and Mr Modi discussed the crisis facing the UK’s steel industry following the decision to sell steel plants by Tata Steel, an Indian company. They also spoke about opportunities for young people and conservation, as well as the UK/India Year of Culture in 2017.
Their time in Delhi having come to an end, William and Catherine then flew to Assam, where they will visit the Kaziranga National Park. The royal couple were greeted by dancers performing an Assamese dance called ‘Bihu’, and were served some of the region’s traditional snacks before retiring to their hotel for some well deserved rest.
Early tomorrow morning, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge enjoy a safari around Kaziranga National Park, which is well known for its one-horned rhinoceros.