Islamabad, Pakistan — The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge began their official tour to Pakistan on Tuesday, meeting the country’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan. William and Kate arrived in Islamabad Monday night for their first-ever visit to the country.
On Tuesday afternoon the royals met Khan at his official residence in the capital before lunching with the former cricket star, who Prince William has known since childhood. Khan and his former wife, Jemima Goldsmith, were close friends of William’s mother, the late Diana, Princess of Wales, who visited Pakistan several times.
During their meeting, Prince William recalled his mother taking him to see Khan in London in 1996, when everyone laughed as he announced his political ambitions to a teenage William.
Khan, who was elected as Pakistan’s Prime Minister last year, said getting there was as hard as building his first career in international cricket.
He told the prince that when he decided to become a professional cricketer, “I never realized how difficult it was to eventually become one. Similarly, when I told you that I wanted to succeed (in politics), I didn’t realize it would take me 22 years.”
Khan also recalled some of the sites Diana visited during her three trips to Pakistan, several of which William and Kate are expected to see during their tour. William is also expected to honor his mother’s humanitarian work in Pakistan during the visit.
The royal couple’s day began with an engagement in the morning focusing on girls’ education. They visited the Islamabad Modern College for Girls, a government-run school for disadvantaged 4-18-year-olds.
Asked by some of the students what they thought of Pakistan so far, Kate said: “It’s fantastic. We are going to the north so we will be interested to explore the difference. This part of the visit is really important to us, the issue of girls and education.”
One student, Aima, 14, told William that the girls were “big fans of your mother,” much to his delight. “You were, really? Oh that’s very sweet of you. I was a big fan of my mother, too. She came here three times. I was very small. This is my first time and it is very nice to be here and meet you all. We have been wanting to come for a very long time so it’s nice, my grandmother was here, my father’s been here, a lot of my family members have been here.”
Later this week the duke and duchess will visit Pakistan’s second city of Lahore, the mountains in the north and regions bordering Afghanistan in the west.
“While the duke and duchess’ program will pay respect to the historical relationship between Britain and Pakistan, it will largely focus on showcasing Pakistan as it is today – a dynamic, aspirational and forward-looking nation,” a spokesman for the royals said.
On Tuesday night they were attending a reception at the Pakistan National Monument celebrating Pakistani culture.
William and Kate’s visit is the first royal tour to the country in 13 years. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall undertook the last royal visit to Pakistan in 2006 amid tight security following a series of terrorist attacks in the country.