Prince William and Kate Middleton kicked off their week-long tour of India and Bhutan on Sunday, April 10 and finishing with a visit to the Taj Mahal on April 16, following in Princess Diana’s footsteps by viewing the monument. This is Prince William and Kate Middleton’s first-ever visit to India and Bhutan and it’s special – in his speech at the Bollywood Gala last Sunday, Prince William said that India was top of Kate Middleton’s travel wish list when they married in 2011.
The trip has been packed every day with official and non-official events and activities. They’ve been exposed to the best and the worst that India has to offer, from mystical sites and moving ceremonies to the slums of Mumbai, and the plight of vulnerable street children in New Delhi. The hundreds of photos published every day by international media covering every detail of their tour, show her looking poised and radiant despite the intense heat.
After touching down in Mumbai, the royal couple paid a visit to the Taj Palace Hotel Memorial and laid wreaths in honor of the victims of the 2008 terror attacks. The royal couple also left a signed handwritten note at the memorial reading, “In memory of those who lost their lives and those injured in the senseless atrocities at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.” The royals visited one of India’s city slums to see firsthand the work being done by some of the charities in uplifting the lives of the urban poor, as well as the ancient water tank, Banganga, considered one of the holiest places in Mumbai. They received a traditional welcome, along with performances by some enthusiastic locals. They also met with children for a fun game of cricket and were presented with gorgeous flower garlands and tilaks by the locals at the Banganga Water Tank. The duo then made their way back to the hotel, where they wrapped up their night at a Bollywood-inspired charity gala. Mumbai’s prestigious Taj Palace Hotel was the lavish setting for the ultimate Bollywood party held in honour of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
On Monday, the pair visited Gandhi Smriti, an Indian museum dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi in New Delhi; laid a wreath at India Gate Memorial to honor soldiers from Indian regiments that fought in World War I; and attended a Young Entrepreneurs Event in Mumbai. Later that evening, Will and Kate attended a garden party celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s upcoming 90th birthday.
The following day, the couple visited the Hyderabad House and met with the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi. Later that night, the two made their way to the Bihu Festival at Diphlu River Lodge, where they sat fireside and watched children dance. When they met the musicians afterwards William tried his hand at playing the gogona, an instrument like a Jews’s harp made out of bamboo. On Thursday, the two arrived in Bhutan and wasted no time getting in the swing of things. After arriving in a jet on a windy Thursday morning, Prince William and wife Kate checked into their hotel in the capital of Thimpu and later headed to a 13th century royal fortress.
From their vehicle, they were ushered by traditional dancers, flag-bearers, pipers, drummers and Buddhist monks down a 500-meter walkway to meet Bhutan’s King JigmeKhesarNamgyelWangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema, who are wildly popular in the nation of 800,000. In addition to meeting King Wangchuck of Bhutan and Queen Jetsun Pema of Bhutan, they also showed off their archery and dart-throwing skills. Kate, of course, stunned in a yellow dress as well as a caped top. On Friday, the duo made a picture-perfect outing as they hiked to a Buddhist monastery called the Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan.
Then after a colorful week in India and Bhutan, wrapped up another successful overseas tour at one of the most famous symbols of enduring love in the world: the Taj Mahal in Agra, north-central India. They posed, looking blissful in the sunshine. And despite temperatures reaching 110 degrees, they looked serenely cool in casual clothes: He, in khakis and a blue sports jacket, she, in an India-inspired blue-and-white embroidered dress. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were fully aware of how important it was to see the Taj Mahal, so much so, in fact, that they released an official statement on their website acknowledging Diana’s 1992 trip there before they even stepped foot in Agra. “24 years on from her visit to the Taj, The Duke and The Duchess are looking forward to seeing this beautiful place for themselves and creating some new memories as they say thank you to the people of India at the conclusion of this tour,” the statement added.
With all the happenings it’s simply undeniable that the couple won the hearts of the people in India, and widespread praise at home as a valuable ambassador. At the halfway point, the trip has already qualified as a diplomatic and cultural success.