By Simon Perry October 11, 2019
The royal couple may have already been around the world to Australia, Germany, Singapore, Canada and the U.S. (to name just a few of the places they have visited since their wedding of 2011), but their five-day tour of Pakistan has been called by their spokesman as their “most complex” tour ever because of the security and logistical considerations. The royals will have to utilize all their deftness for talking with dignitaries, while delving further into issues they champion, such as children’s development and climate change.
The royal parents, who are traveling without children Prince George, 6, Princess Charlotte, 4, and Prince Louis, were asked to visit Pakistan from October 14-18 by the British government to help cement the link between the two countries and their people.
“What happens in Pakistan matters on the streets of the U.K. It is one of the most important relationships that the U.K. has,” says a senior source.
Royal and diplomatic sources reiterate that a history going back hundreds of years has engendered a vast number of connections between the people and the governments of both countries. There are 1.5 million people in the U.K. who have family links to Pakistan. And since Pakistan gained independent from British rule in 1947, it has been a member of the Commonwealth of 53 nations that share a link with the U.K.
For William, 37, there are family ties too. He will also be representing his grandmother Queen Elizabeth – who has been a regular visitor to the country during her reign of more than 65 years. And much of the tour will bring echoes of his late mother Princess Diana, who visited Pakistan twice in the last year of her life – and was asked by the Queen to undertake a solo trip as early as 1991.
Kate — who has developed a greater “regal” character as she prepares to be queen one day, several sources tell PEOPLE — will also be under the spotlight even more during the tour. The couple’s spokesman says they “will visit programs which empower young people and organizations that help ensure they have the best possible start in life.” Supporting children is a cause very much close to Kate’s heart.
The royal’s interest in childhood development is right in line with officials’ hopes too, as access to quality education — particularly to girls and young women — is one of the U.K.’s top priorities in Pakistan.
William and Kate have also asked to meet a wide variety of people during their visit — from children to business people to “inspiring conservationists” and sports stars — as they cross the country (and cover 620 miles in the process!) next week.
The week’s events will focus on showcasing Pakistan as “a dynamic, aspirational and forward-looking nation,” their spokesman says. “The Duke and Duchess are looking forward to spending time meeting young Pakistanis, and hearing more about their aspirations for the future.”
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Pakistan has also been geo-political flashpoint that continues to have its own unique security challenges – especially in the border areas with Afghanistan. With that in mind, the couple will also be briefed on the latest developments and see how military personnel from both the U.K. and Pakistan are sharing expertise to improve the situation.
The article appeared in the People magazine on 11 October 2019