The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spent a busy day in Lahore on the penultimate day of their royal visit to Pakistan with the focus on children and children’s-based initiatives.
Upon arrival at Lahore airport William and Kate met the Governor of Punjab and the Chief Minister of Punjab before heading out to public engagements.Embed from Getty Images
At the SOS Children’s Village, William and Kate toured the facilities and met with children and carers. The couple also read to the children and attended a special birthday party for three of the young people there: Iman, Ibrahim and Daniyal.Embed from Getty Images
Kate gave her first speech of the tour, speaking in English and Urdu as she discussed the importance of family and how the people of Pakistan have welcomed the royal couple.
“We’ve had such an amazing time walking around the village and learning all about your lives,” she said. “We have been really moved and touched by what we have seen, and by the happy home you have made.
“I’m aware that many of you have experienced extremely difficult times in your lives. But it is inspiring to see how you have used your strength and positivity to help transform the lives of so many young children here.Embed from Getty Images
“Being in Pakistan this week, William and I have seen on several occasions how family is at the heart of your culture.
“Parents, children, aunts, uncles, grandparents all play important roles – you have reminded us exactly what family means. You have shown us too that it is not simply a term that describes the relationship between blood relatives. Instead, it describes those special bonds we share with those who make us feel safe and supported. It is the quality of those relationships that matter.”
Speaking about the SOS Children’s Village, Kate said that “The village we have seen here today is the best representation of that ideal that I could have possibly imagined.
“Together as a village you are transforming children’s lives and providing them with strong foundations to support all their families. You have created a home where children are given the love, protection and support that will enable them to have a fairer chance in life
“Here, women who were once vulnerable, now play the most vital of roles as mothers and it is most heartening to see that you are not doing this alone.”
Kate spoke a few words in Urdu, saying “Assalam O Alaikum,” which means, “Peace be unto you,” and thanked Iman, Ibrahim and Daniyal for “inviting us to your birthday celebration.”
They had cake, played games and held a party for the three kids and Iman later told reporters that “It was very nice to meet the Prince and Princess. I am so happy and thankful to have them to celebrate my birthday.”
Iman also revealed that Kate’s Urdu was “very good!”
The SOS Children’s Village was opened in 1977 and provides children who have lost their natural parents with a home environment that includes care, security, love, educational opportunities, and job training.
On their Facebook page, the SOS Children’s Village Pakistan noted that having William and Kate spend time there proved that “the love we have seen today is enough to claim that our children are loved.”
The couple then visited the National Cricket Academy to hear more about Pakistan’s national sport and took part in a game with children who participate in the DOTSI Program, a British-led initiative that promotes social skills and self esteem. Former cricket stars were also there, including Waqar Younis who umpired the game.Embed from Getty Images
He told the Daily Mail afterwards that “I’m glad that they came – it was a great encouragement for these young kids.”
He also said that the royals were rusty on the cricket pitch. “They probably need some homework! William told me he has played a lot of tennis – and that he really only played cricket when he was younger, but he said he can work on it.”Embed from Getty Images
One of the children playing cricket, Adeeba, asked Kate if she liked playing cricket, and Kate replied through a translator that she likes it, but enjoys tennis and swimming more. “She said she needs to practice cricket more.”Embed from Getty Images
William and Kate were presented with three small cricket bats to take home to Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
Their next engagement was at the Badshahi Mosque, where the couple discussed interfaith dialogues in the community. They toured the mosque and its facilities as well.Embed from Getty Images
Dr Leghari said afterwards that “They were interested in finding out about how the youth thought about interfaith interactions.” Iona Thomas, a political counsellor at the British High Commission, revealed that William asked many questions about what can be done to promote and encourage religious tolerance.
As they were leaving, they spoke with Honorary Consul UK Fakir Aijaz Uddin, who told them that “If there’s one word to describe your visit, it is ‘joy.’ You have radiated joy wherever you have been.”
William replied, “We are very happy people.”
The royal couple’s final engagement of the day was a visit to the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, which was opened by Pakistani Prime Minister Imram Khan in 1994 and visited by Diana, Princess of Wales, twice.Embed from Getty Images
William and Kate met with several young cancer patients, including Wafia Rehmani, a seven-year-old patient from Afghanistan, who hosted a tea party in her bed. She and Kate both sported toy tiaras while she told the royals how she wants to be a doctor when she grows up and showed them her toy medical kit.Embed from Getty Images
They also toured the facilities before departing.
William and Kate were scheduled to return to Islamabad via the RAF Voyager plane, however severe storms prevented the plane from landing after it had tried twice to do so. The plane was forced to return to Lahore for the evening where the couple spent the night.