Earlier this month when Kensington Palace released some details about the Royal visit Pakistan, the tour was described as the “The most complex tour undertaken by The Duke and Duchess to date, given the logistical and security considerations”.
At the end of the 5-days long visit to the commonwealth country, the tour has not only been a successful visit but it also puts both Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Pakistan in a new light.
William and Catherine wanted to largely focus on showcasing Pakistan as it is today – a dynamic, aspirational and forward-looking nation. The visit highlighted many important issues i.e. Climate changes, Mental Health, Education, Security while strengthening the UK-Pakistan relationship. Duke and Duchess did not put a single foot wrong throughout the most high-profile visit they have ever undertaken.
After receiving an official welcome at the Rawalpindi Airbase, they partied with school children, met Prime Minister and President, saw the effects of eroding glacier, played cricket, visited iconic Badshahi Mosque, retraced the footsteps of Diana Princess of Wales at the Shaukat Khanum hospital, and did not miss an opportunity to cuddle puppies before leaving.
The complex tour had its fair share of difficulties. on Thursday night when William and Catherine were travelling back to Islamabad after a day full of engagements in Lahore, the RAF Voyager carrying the royal couple, their staff and security and UK Press Pack was struck by lightning and due to bad weather conditions was not able to land in Islamabad forcing all on board to spend an unplanned night in Lahore.
Planning a royal tour is a long and tedious process. From Itinerary to security, arrival to departure, venue to activity, fashion to photography, society to diplomacy every single element needs detail attention. It has been reported in past that whenever William and Catherine embark on a tour their team first visit the places noticing all the crucial details i.e. security, activities of the engagement, photograph angles, sartorial diplomacy. From the success of Cambridge tours, it is clear that the royal couple is equally involved in planning the tours.
So when the royal couple and their team was forced to face unavoidable circumstances on Thursday, they took it in their stride showing the confidence and calmness and made sure the situation does not undermine the tour and its purpose. It made to the headlines but without shadowing the tour or eclipsing its success. The press pack travelling with the royal couple has praised the couple during the situation immensely. Talking about Sky news reporter Rhiannon Mills wrote,
We were heading home. I was curled up in my aeroplane seat, eye mask on, earplugs in, when I heard the giggling. Lifting my eye mask, I found Prince William and Kate standing next to my seat. They’d come to the back of the plane to say hello to us again and caught most of us fast asleep.
It was the third time they had made the effort to come back and chat. It may not sound like a big deal, but it doesn’t usually happen on royal tours – and if it does, members of the family have never spent that long with us.
A small gesture, but one that set the tone for their trip to Pakistan. A chance for us to really find out what they had wanted to achieve on their most complex tour to date.
The royal couple ensured the press team and their security staff gets the comfortable arrangements while spending an unplanned night at a 4-start Pearl Continental Hotel in Lahore. Instead of causing any stirring headlines, the royal couple turned the events into their favour and took the opportunity to spend more time with orphan children at the SOS village in Lahore that they visited earlier in the day.
Kids at SOS gifted some special souvenirs – Catherine received a pink bracelet and William a blue about which he said, “I won’t take it off. My children will wonder why I’m wearing it.” The visit also made another first, after returning back home, Duchess of Cambridge made her first-ever social media post. She posted pictures from their second visit to SOS on official Instagram and Twitter accounts of Kensington Palace.
“The community at the SOS Village is built around family – and the best possible family you could imagine – where everyone comes together to nurture, love and protect the children in their care” Catherine posted.
“These vulnerable children, many who have come through traumatic circumstances, are nurtured in this caring environment and are able to form these quality relationships that they so desperately need to thrive.” — The Duchess of Cambridge
During their second visit to the SOS Village, a home and family structure to over 150 young girls and boys in Lahore, William and Catherine joined kids for some fun activities.
Dressed up in £70 bespoke white Elan Kurta and white trouser, Catherine arts and history graduate took part in a drawing session.
The visit gave them an opportunity to know more about the village and its facility on a personal level. The couple was relaxed and joking with the kids and staff.
Only Duchess can play cricket while wearing heels.
The tour, that took place after 13 years of last royal visit to Pakistan, presented the rising profile of William and Catherine who one day will the King and Queen of the United Kingdom and its 13 realms. Rhiannon continued,
Tours are an ideal chance to observe how the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are continuing to shape their working lives together. Prince William’s tour of the Middle East last summer had shown him to be an increasingly statesmanlike figure, and Pakistan was another example of how he’s really coming into his own on the diplomatic stage.
couple of years ago, he was criticised for being workshy and not knuckling down to his royal duties. He now seems to be more confident and clear on how he wants to use his royal role. Kate also seemed more at ease on this trip.
As a woman who’s married into this life, she has a difficult balancing act. Doing her duties in a way that are authentic and suit her personality, with the enormous expectations of a worldwide audience who watch her every move.
A husband and wife who came across as a tight working partnership.
Another interesting engagement during the visit was reported late. Duke and Duchess had an impromptu tea with a family that they met on the roadside while visiting the Hindu-Kush regions. The couple entered the one-room home in Lahore only accompanied by the translator despite the security concerns that were looming over their heads throughout the visit. Daily Mail reported,
When it comes to jam-packed Royal tours, meticulous scheduling, planned months in advance, is everything. But the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge ripped up the timetable for their high-profile Pakistan tour – to visit the home of a family they met by the side of the road.
Kate and William spotted the villagers as the Royal convoy was threading its way through the remote Wakhan region as they travelled back from visiting a glacier in the Hindu Kush mountain range. Enthralled, the Duchess asked the car they were travelling in to stop so she and William could meet the villagers – and one family promptly invited them to visit their home, a simple hut.
Despite raised eyebrows from aides and the Pakistani military, who have been helping to guard Kate and William during the tour, the pair entered the one-room home, accompanied only by a translator.
Inside, the family explained to the couple how they live without running water and electricity and are confined to their home for half of the year due to snow and freezing temperatures.
The Duchess – a keen photographer who has taken many official pictures of her children – then borrowed a Fujifilm camera from an aide to take pictures of the grandmother, mother and daughter.
Describing the encounter, the Duchess said: ‘It was fantastic to meet these people living in such a remote place. They were so hospitable, offering William and me a cup of tea. It was a very special moment. They had no idea who we were, which gave us a chance to see a different side of Pakistan. We really enjoyed the day in the mountains and meeting so many of the local people in the Kalash village, [it was] a real privilege to see a different way of life.’
And William paid tribute to his wife’s camera skills, highlighting their visit earlier on Wednesday to the Chiatibo glacier in Broghil National Park, northern Pakistan, to see the effects of climate change.
‘She likes taking lots of pictures,’ he said. ‘She does a few portraits, but mostly landscapes. When we went to see the glacier, she took some great photos up there.’
Sitting cross-legged on the bare floor, Kate helped children to paint a mural, saying: ‘I do lots of drawing at home with my children.’
And when one youngster mentioned England, Kate replied: ‘You’ll have to come and see us.’ The Duke then led the children in an impromptu game of cricket.
Kate had the children in giggles by feigning pain after being inadvertently hit on the neck with a foam ball by William, before the prince joked: ‘She’s my wife, so I can just about get away with it.’
The tour brought some rare gems. Duchess gave a small interview to the CNN during the tour. We have the only a handful of Catherine’s interview since she became the member of the royal family in 2010. Speaking to CNN, while Prince William was standing by her side, Duchess described the visit as “really special.”
In a rare interview, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge told CNN exclusively that the royal tour of Pakistan with Prince William has been "really special." https://cnn.it/35IebAQ
Posted by CNN on Friday, October 18, 2019
“It was amazing seeing some of the geographies yesterday, but then to see some of the community activities today has been really special.”
A crucial factor playing an important role in the triumph of the visit was the sartorial details. Every single look Duchess and on some occasions Duke chose were paying respect to the host country where traditions and culture are valued highly. As wrote in her article,
The rapturous summaries of their every move were matched only by the rapturous summaries of their every garment. It’s been a while since clothes were employed quite so strategically and consistently to send an unspoken, but also unmistakable, message. The effect was refreshing.
Their clothing choices showed how serious they are about the visit and how much its diplomatic success means to both the UK and Pakistan.
Moment Duchess stepped out of RAF Voyager in Monday night, she showed she meant business. Whether it was Maheen Khan’s elegant and regal Green shalwar Kameez for Badshahi Mosque or Catherine Walker’s green coat for meeting Prime Minister or Chitral’s traditional cap or Jenny Packham’s glittering gown, Duchess nailed the style element from the get-go.
Catherine and her stylist Natasha Archer Jackson worked hard and not $10 earrings were missed during the wardrobe planning for the visit. Catherine’s tour style included more than enough sartorial nodes with the colour green – that is Pakistan’s flag colour, traditional Shalwar Kameez, Local high-street designers mixed with British labels. The tour budget was amazingly low given the high profile of the visit.
This time William joined Catherine in sartorial diplomacy and wore a traditional sherwani designer by Pakistani designer Naushemian to the reception hosted by the British High Commissioner. Their clothes made silent statements cross-border respect, cultural awareness and outreach. From Alexandra Shulman’s Daily Mail article,
In this, their ninth tour as a couple, the Duchess’s style also came of age. Sometimes the nods to national costume and motifs can scream ‘Disneyworld cliché’, but she wore the modest dress of the region as if it came naturally to her, rather than as a costume cooked up by an over-researched Kensington Palace stylist.
Ultimately real style is staying true to yourself while paying attention to the company you are going to keep. Kate achieved that brilliantly, with a simple palette of blue, white and green, teamed with her trusty nude shoes and clutch bags. And, of course, the ministrations of her faithful hairdresser, Amanda Cook Tucker, who along with wielding the blowdryer to battle the humidity on those honey-toned locks, will have kept up a stream of jolly down-time chatter.
But our Duchess of Cambridge’s greatest accessory and the one that made all the difference was her smile. What a smile. Joyful and genuine.
The attention given to the fashion brought these designers to the international limelight which was applauded by both the critics and the royal fashion world. Venessa continued,
Part of this, obviously, came from the boost given to local industry conferred by the Duke and Duchess, whose patronage can make national names known on the international stage. That’s always a welcome thing.
But a lot of it also indubitably comes from the fact that, after Melania Trump, whose intentions with her public clothing choices are often unclear; Ivanka Trump, who came under fire for wearing her own brand early in her father’s administration; and Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, whose clothes sometimes seems to advance her own agenda above all, it has become an increasingly rare expression of soft power.
Fashion, when it is employed not simply at the service of making someone look good, or morally upright, can have resonance far beyond the ritual. It’s about time someone remembered.
By the time Friday rolled out, the challenging royal visit to Pakistan was declared a huge success from every angle despite the logistical details (and some natural) that caused cancellation of 3 engagements. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge gave a perfect dose of diplomacy, friendship, royal grandeur, style and local aesthetic. William and Catherine carved their name in the history books in their own words.
Prince George and Princess Charlotte are on school break from October 24 to November 01. So I do not expect any engagement for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during this period. I believe the family will be retreating to their country residence Anmer Hall in Norfolk.