Mumbai, April 10: Prince William and wife Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, on Sunday started their first visit to India by paying homage to the victims of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks here.
Landing in the metropolis just before noon on their seven-day tour of India and Bhutan, the royal couple were accorded a ceremonial welcome at Hotel Taj Mahal Palace.
The royal couple are travelling without their two minor children – two-and-half-year-old Prince George and 11-month-old Princess Charlotte.
- Shortly thereafter, the royal couple, attired in formals, paid homage to the victims of the Mumbai terror attacks by laying a wreath at the 26/11 memorial at the hotel, where they will stay during their Mumbai trip.
Later, they interacted with staff, who were witness to the hotel attack by 10 Pakistani terrorists on November 26-28, 2008.
The iconic hotel stands just opposite the historic Gateway of India, built to commemorate the visit of their illustrious ancestor, King George V and Queen Mary in 1911.
- Later, the couple came out sporting casuals – Prince William in a full-sleeved shirt and dark trousers and Kate in a printed flowing frock from Anita Dongre collection and joined a cricket match organised by NGOs Magic Bus, Doorstep and India’s Childline.
Kate made an elegant Indian statement, choosing to wear the long printed tunic with Mughal details. “The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton looks elegant in a Mughal inspired tunic by Anita Dongre Royal Visit India,” tweeted Dongre.
Ace designer Ritu Kumar had designed an Indian suit for Princess Diana’s visit to Pakistan in 1997. Princess Diana looked simple and elegant when she wore Kumar’s creation — a blue suit and dupatta — with Pakistani cricketer Imran Khan and his wife Jemima.
Both Prince William and Kate took to the crease and batted for some time, as visibly excited onlookers cheered on.
A large number of children, representatives of the non-governmental organisations and other invitees were present on the occasion at the famed Oval Maidan in south Mumbai, where Sachin Tendulkar and former cricketer Dilip Vengsarkar also joined them.
Tendulkar later commented on his experiences in a tweet: “Royal afternoon at the Oval with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Bowled over by their humility.”
- They also joined children from NGO Apnalya in an open-bus ride in south Mumbai, accompanied by several children and NGO volunteers.
- The British royals then headed for the around 900-year-old Banganga Tank at the Malabar Hill, constructed in 1127 by the Silhara dynasty rulers of the then Thane kingdom.
They were greeted by women of the local community and volunteers of the Smile Foundation with garlands and flowers, after which the couple showered petals in the holy reservoir.
Legend has it that the reservoir came into existence when Lord Ram’s brother Laxman shot an arrow into the ground during their exile, sprouting a tributary of the Ganges river, now known as Baganga Tank.
They went around a display of artefacts and handicraft made by the hosts on the occasion.
It is understood that Mumbai dabbawalas also honoured the Royal couple with special gifts.
Office-bearers of dabbawalas’ organisation — Raghunath Medge and Sopan Mare — had been invited to the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles in April 2005; and they wanted to reciprocate.
- Prince William and Kate on Sunday evening attended a gala charity reception and dinner for raising funds for various NGOs, in the presence of some of the top names in Indian business and Bollywood.
According to mirror.co.uk, the event organised by the British Asian Trust, it was a star-studded affair with Shah Rukh, Aamir, Rishi, Aishwarya, Farhan Akhtar as well as cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar.
SNAPSHOTS OF THE ROYAL VISIT
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”6″ gal_title=”royals in India”]
After giving a Bollywood start to their India tour, the royal couple will enjoy a lavish lunch hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Prince William and Kate will lay a wreath at India Gate and visit Gandhi Smriti during their time in the national capital.
After this, they will visit the Kaziranga National Park in Assam before they go on a visit to Bhutan.
They will return to India and visit the Taj Mahal before they leave for Britain.
Before their departure for India, Kate chose to wear a high-collared Mary Illusion Dot Dress by India-born designer Saloni Lodha when she welcomed Indian and Bhutanese expats to Kensington Palace.
Accompanied by her husband Prince William, she greeted guests before their visit to India and Bhutan.
feature photo: Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton plays cricket at Oval Maidan, in Mumbai, on April 10, 2016