The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge embarked on the first full day of their tour of Pakistan today by highlighting the importance of education and mental health with a school visit.
The couple visited the Islamabad Model College for Girls in the capital, touring classrooms and posing for a group picture with some of the young students, ranging from kindergarten age students to sixth formers.
William was told the girls were ‘big fans of your mother’. He gave a broad smile and said: ‘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.’
The visit by Prince William and Kate is designed to champion the importance of quality education, and highlight how girls benefit from pursuing higher education and professional careers.
Kate dazzled crowds as she stepped out in a traditional blue kurta and scarf by local designer Maheen Khan, while William opted for a casual shirt and trousers to stay cool in the Pakistan heat.
The Cambridges pulled up tiny chairs so they could sit and chat to pupils in their classroom at the school, which also teaches young boys.
The couple are visiting the Islamabad Model College for Girls in the capital, touring classrooms and posing for a group picture with some of the young students, ranging from kindergarten age students to sixth formers
Kate looked relaxed as she stepped out of the royal car wearing a stunning blue traditional kurta and a pair of nude heels
Natural: Kate looked happy and relaxed as she chatted to children in the classroom. Her own children are at school in London
The Cambridges were delighted to meet children as they lined up to greet them in the playground in Islamabad
Kate watches the children playing in the playground at the Islamabad Model College for Girls in the Pakistani capital
The Duchess of Cambridge looked delighted as she arrived at the Model College for Girls and was greeted by pupils and staff
The Government-run school in central Islamabad, which educates students between the ages of 4 and 18, was established in 1978.
It currently benefits from the ‘Teach for Pakistan’ programme, a fast-track teacher training programme modelled on the UK’s successful ‘Teach First’ scheme, which is focused on improving the quality of teaching in schools which serve families from disadvantaged backgrounds.
How Kate wore a dress by the chief executive of Fashion Pakistan Week
The Duchess visits Margalla Hills in Islamabad today
Kate dazzled crowds as she stepped out in a traditional blue kurta and scarf by Maheen Khan, an international Pakistani designer and costume designer.
The kurta is a long loose-fitting collarless shirt, with the style originating in India. The clothing has its roots in Central Asian nomadic tunics.
Ms Khan opened her first shop in Lahore, ‘The Seamstress’, in 1972 and has since taken part in 20 international shows.
She is the chief executive of Fashion Pakistan Week and has had her collections featured at Milan Fashion Week as well.
Khan was recently dubbed the ‘Coco Chanel of the East’ and is renowned for her flattering cuts and mastery of the use of chiffon.
She was commissioned by Harrods to make a replica of the Queen’s coronation dress for the 60th anniversary celebrations, but ultimately it wasn’t used so she presented it to the British High Commission in Karachi instead.
UK aid has helped more than 5.5 million girls get a quality education since 2011, according to the British High Commission. The duke spoke of the UK’s aim of teaching young people about mental health as he was leaving the school.
‘In the UK we’re trying to make sure mental health is part of education as well,’ the duke told a teacher.
He said students from disadvantaged backgrounds do not have a ‘stable health platform to build on’ and that education in this area is important.
William has frequently spoken out on mental health, including recently lending his voice to a promotional video for Every Mind Matters, an initiative by Public Health England and the NHS.
He and Kate heard how students are benefiting from the Teach For Pakistan programme, a fast-track teacher training scheme modelled on the UK’s successful Teach First.
Mohammed Sohailkhan, area education officer, explained that the quality of education, particularly for girls, varied across the country.
‘In recent years there has been gradual progress in understanding how important education is for girls and young women. There is a realisation of what it can mean in terms of jobs and prospects,’ he said.
‘I can’t paint you an entirely rosy picture. It does still fluctuate wildly, particularly in rural regions, where there has traditionally been cultural barriers towards this, notably in terms of sending girls away to college. But these barriers are slowly being broken down. ‘
The couple’s next engagement was at the Margalla Hills National Park, north of Islamabad, where security officials were seen tightening up operations this morning in preparation.
Continuing the theme of education, the couple were meeting children from three local schools in the hills, which sit in the foothills of the Himalayas.
The Cambridges looked keen to begin chatting to pupils at the school in central Islamabad, which teaches boys and girls
Kate looked deeply engaged in a conversation with teachers and pupils at the Model College for Girls in Islamabad today
Kate may have left her children at home in London, but she looked thrilled to be chatting to youngsters at the school today
A little boy from the school in Islamabad looks shy as Kate leans in to talk to him at his classroom table this morning
Kate showcased a dazzling pair of earrings that matched her royal blue kurta and scarf designed by Maheen Khan
A group of girls and boys crowded around the Duchess as she sat at their classroom table for a chat this morning
Hello! Kate shakes the hand of a teacher at the Islamabad Model College for Girls this morning as they prepare to speak to pupils
A warm welcome: William shakes the hand of one of the teachers at the Islamabad Model College for Girls in the capital
William and Kate are pictured entering a classroom at the Government-run Islamabad Model College for Girls in Pakistan this morning
Getting involved: William and Kate quickly took seats at tiny chairs to speak to the children at the Islamabad Model College for Girls
Pleased to meet you: William sat at the children’s table to talk to girls and boys at the school in central Islamabad
Kate beamed as she sat at the children’s table to hear about what they have been learning at school in Islamabad
William and Kate are also due to have lunch with Prime Minister Imran Khan and attend a special reception at the National Monument in their first full day of engagements.
At an evening reception later on today, the couple’s first full day of engagements, the duke is set to say in a speech that the UK will continue to support the Commonwealth country as a ‘key partner and friend’.
The visit hopes to strengthen ties between the two nations. The UK is seeking to improve its international relations with Brexit looming, while Pakistan hopes to promote itself as a tourist destination amid security fears.
‘Pakistan is the world’s sixth largest country by population,’ the duke is due to say. ‘It has an unbelievably diverse geography that spans deserts to glaciers and everything in between. It is the birth place of the youngest ever Nobel peace prize winner.
Their Royal Highnesses are meeting with pupils from kindergarten to sixth form at the school in Pakistan today
The Duchess of Cambridge arrives for a visit to Margalla Hills during the royal tour of Pakistan today
Their Royal Highnesses’ engagement in Pakistan today is championing the importance of quality education
The couple are taking part in activities to show Pakistan’s work towards Sustainable Development Goals in Islamabad today
The Duchess of Cambridge interacts with a student at a school on a visit to Islamabad today
The couple are learning in Islamabad today about ‘Teach for Pakistan’, a fast-track teacher training programme scheme
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit the Margalla Hills at the foothills of the Himalayas in Islamabad today
‘We share unique bonds and so it will always be in our best interests for Pakistan to succeed.
Pakistan visit arranged around George, Charlotte and Louis
While William and Kate have decided not to take their three children – Prince George, six, Princess Charlotte, four, and one-year-old Prince Louis – with them to Pakistan, their parents’ five-day tour has still been designed with the youngsters in mind.
The duke and duchess’ 9.35am departure on the British government’s official Voyager plane from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire yesterday morning was timed so that they could see their children off to school first, sources have revealed. And the trip will conclude on Friday evening so that they can spend the weekend with their young brood.
It is all part of a concerted attempt by the couple and their staff to finely balance their growing official duties on behalf of queen and country with family time, say aides.
While they are away Kate’s parents, Michael and Carole Middleton, will be helping long-term nanny Maria Borrallo with childcare responsibilities.
After their official welcome, William and Kate headed off in a heavily-guarded convoy to their base for the week, the High Commissioner’s official residence in the capital, Islamabad.
William was expected to spend the evening working on a major speech to be delivered today in which he is set to highlight the ‘unique bonds’ between the two countries, particularly the 1.5 million people of Pakistani origin living in the UK, saying:’Pakistan is the world’s sixth largest country bye population. It has an unbelievably diverse geography that spans deserts to glaciers and everything in between. It is the birth place of the youngest ever Nobel Peace prize winner.
‘We share unique bonds and so it will always be in our best interests for Pakistan to succeed. Not least because of the 1.5 million people living in the Uk with Pakistani origin and the fact that the Uk is one of the biggest investors in Pakistan’s economy.
‘You can always rely on the UK to keep playing an important role as a key partner and friend. ‘
The couple are also, for the first time, taking their own medic as part of their official entourage , a friend from William’s days working as a pilot for East Anglian Air Ambulance.
Only the Queen (when she travelled abroad) and the Prince of Wales have a doctor accompany them on foreign tours.
‘Not least because of the 1.5 million people living in the UK with Pakistani origin and the fact that the UK is one of the biggest investors in Pakistan’s economy.
‘You can always rely on the UK to keep playing an important role as a key partner and friend.’
More than 1,000 Pakistani police officers have been deployed to secure the couple’s safety during their travels across the country. All details of their engagements will be released by the palace on the day for security reasons.
William and Kate were greeted off the plane by Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and his wife at the Pakistani Air Force base in Rawalpindi, near Islamabad, on Monday night.
After their official welcome, William and Kate headed off in a heavily-guarded convoy to their base for the week, the High Commissioner’s official residence in the capital, Islamabad.
William was expected to spend the evening working on a major speech to be delivered tomorrow in which he is set to highlight the ‘unique bonds’ between the two countries, particularly the 1.5 million people of Pakistani origin living in the UK.
The couple’s presence in Pakistan – the first royal visit since Charles and Camilla undertook a lengthy tour in 2006 – has sparked a major security operation involving more than 1,000 local police officers due to the ongoing threat of militant terrorism in the Muslim-majority state.
Pakistan has, in recent years, been damaged by allegations that the country’s military leadership have sponsored Taliban forces in neighbouring Afghanistan and turned a blind eye to support for Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was found living in a compound in Abbottabad in 2011.
It is hoped that a successful tour by the Cambridges will help Prime Minister Imran Khan’s efforts to restore his country’s reputation internationally.
The former international cricketer, who has known William since he was a child and was a friend of his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, will be meeting with the couple this week.
William and Kate’s travels will span more than 700 miles, taking in both the cities of Islamabad and Lahore, as well as vast mountainous regions in the north and west of the country.
The trip has been designed to showcase the best modern Pakistan has to offer and emphasise the ongoing political, cultural, social and economic ties it enjoys with the UK, highlighting Britain’s continuing role on the international stage away from the Brexit crisis.
The Duchess of Cambridge smiles at a school on a visit to Islamabad in Pakistan today
The couple arrive for a visit to Margalla Hills to join children from local schools in Islamabad today
The Duke and Duchess are today visiting a school in Islamabad, which educates students between the ages of 4 and 18
Kate and William looked calm and relaxed as they stepped out of their car to meet teachers and pupils at the school in Islamabad. Security on the trip is tight and details of all engagements are not being released until the day itself
The Duchess shakes hands with two teachers at the Model College School for Girls in Islamabad this morning
Thank you: William and Kate shake hands with a Pakistani security official to thank them for keeping them safe on their five-day tour of the country
The royals meet two teachers at the Model College School for Girls in Islamabad this morning, on day two of their trip
Next stop: Kate and William are pictured arriving in the Margalla Hills National Park where their next engagement also involves schools
After visiting the school in the centre of Islamabad, they travelled north to the Margalla Hills National Park
Kate joked with park wardens as they arrived at the site, which covers 12,605 hectares of the Pakistani countryside
Having a blast: Kate cracks a huge smile as her and William arrive at the national park, with Kate still sporting her stunning traditional blue kurta and scarf and pair of blue earrings
Continuing the theme of education, the couple are meeting children from three local schools in hills, which sit in the foothills of the Himalayas
Security officials are pictured preparing for the couple to arrive at Margalla Hills in Pakistan for their next engagement
More security: The Duke and Duchess are visiting the Margalla Hills National Park in Pakistan for their next engagement
Rising tensions with India over the disputed region of Kashmir and continuing concerns over Islamic terror groups means that details of the couple’s engagements are being kept under wraps until the last possible moment.
But aides say the couple are still immensely looking forward to the ‘challenging’ visit, saying: ‘They are now in their late 30s and ready to take on these more complex and demanding tours on behalf of the British Government.’
The couple are keen to meet as many Pakistanis as possible – particularly young people – and highlight work being undertaken to improves access to education for girls and young women, climate change and the ‘complex’ security picture.
The visit will also no doubt prove to be an emotional one for the prince His late mother dated British-Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan for two years before her death In 1997.
She famously visited the country with her friend Jemima Goldsmith, the British heiress who was then married to Imran Khan, to meet Hasnat’s family in 1996.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are embarking on the first full day of their tour of Pakistan by highlighting the importance of education for girls after arriving in Islamabad last night
The Kensington Royal Instagram released this picture of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving in Pakistan last night and it immediately had thousands of likes
Kate (left) and William will be following in the footsteps of both the Duke of Cambridge’s parents, as Diana (right), Princess of Wales, made the journey several times through her charity work. The Cambridges are pictured arriving last night
The Duchess is pictured receiving flowers (left and right) from adoring visitors as she landed in the country yesterday evening
Duke of Cambridge Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton are welcomed by Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi (left) at Nur Khan Airbase in Rawalpindi yesterday
Prince William and Kate receive flowers from children upon their arrival at the Pakistan’s Nur Khan military airbase last night
The Duchess of Cambridge (middle) and The Duke of Cambridge are welcomed yesterday evening by Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi (left) at Nur Khan Airbase in Rawalpindi
Prince William, centre right, and theDuchess of Cambridge (centre left) are welcomed yesterday by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi (right) upon their arrival at the Pakistan’s Nur Khan military airbase in Rawalpindi
Authorities in Delhi and Islamabad both claim the Himalayan region in full, but each controls a section of the territory, recognised internationally as ‘Indian-administered Kashmir’ and ‘Pakistan-administered Kashmir’.
Pakistan tour is a sign of the Queen’s ‘terrific faith’ in Kate, royal author claims
The Duchess of Cambridge has ‘won people over’ by ‘doing her duty and never putting a step wrong’, according to a royal author.
Ingrid Seward, editor of Majesty magazine, said that while Kate Middleton, 37, hadn’t had an easy time at the beginning of her time with the royal family, she has ‘won people over’ by working hard and making few mistakes.
The royal commentator also suggested the royal tour of Pakistan, which starts today, was an indication of the respect the Queen had for Kate.
She told Hello! magazine: ‘The Pakistan Tour is very serious and politically sensitive and it’s a great honour that she and William have been asked to do it. The Queen has obviously got a terrific faith in their ability to do it brilliantly.’
And Ingrid suggested the royal trip was coming at a very happy time in the Duchesses’ life, pointing to her ‘family unit’ and successful summer of projects as evidence.
Skirmishes between the two sides at the de-facto border have increased this year, causing troop and civilian casualties.
Pakistan has seen a number of security incidents in recent months, including a bombing outside a shrine in central Lahore, as well as an attack by armed militants on the Pearl Continental Hotel in Gwadar, Balochistan.
With Brexit looming, the tour comes as London hopes to bolster its international relationships, while Islamabad is keen to promote itself as a tourist destination amid concerns over security and violence in the region.
It will span more than 620 miles of the country, including the capital Islamabad, the city of Lahore, the mountainous countryside in the north and border regions to the west.
Their itinerary includes a range of occasions and locations.
William and Kate are expected to meet leaders from government and well-known cultural figures and sporting stars, as well as visiting programmes which empower young people.
They will also cover how communities in Pakistan are responding and adapting to climate change, and are due to spend time understanding the ‘complex security picture’ of the region.
Their tour of Pakistan comes more than 13 years since the last royal visit, seen as one of the most perilous royal foreign tours for some time, when the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall travelled to the country in 2006.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the Aga Khan Centre in London at the beginning of October – ahead of their trip to Pakistan
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet with guests during the special event hosted by the Aga Khan in London at the beginning of October
Prince Charles and Camilla arrive at Islamabad Airport at the start of their official visit to Pakistan in October 2006
Charles and Camilla tour the ruins of houses in Pattika, Pakistan, in November 2006 – a year after it was hit by an earthquake
Charles holds a traditional Pakistani hat known as a ‘Tasher’ he was presented with as Camilla laughs in Islamabad in 2006
William and Kate are following in the footsteps of both his parents, as Diana, Princess of Wales, made the journey several times through her charity work.
The image of the Princess cuddling a gravely ill seven-year-old boy Mohammed Ashrif in 1996 was among Diana’s favourites and she kept a copy of it always
An image of the Princess cuddling a gravely ill seven-year-old boy was among Diana’s favourites and she kept a copy of it always.
It was taken amid the chaos of a Pakistan cancer hospital in 1996 and was a reflex action on her part.
The little boy did not once look at her because he was blind and had just weeks to live.
To Diana, the picture represented everything about how she wished to be seen: compassionate and ready to break down the barriers of protocol.
The Princess visited the country three times, once when married to Prince Charles and twice more after her separation when she was in love with the Pakistan-born heart surgeon Hasnat Khan.
At the time, she was considering marriage to him and even moving to his homeland.
During her trips, she would slip away privately to meet his family but there will be no such cloak-and-dagger antics for Prince William.
It is far more likely that he and Kate will follow the template of Diana’s 1991 tour, her first solo visit representing the Queen to a Commonwealth country.
The couple have left their three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, at home during their visit.
The Princess visited the country three times, once when married to Prince Charles and twice more after her separation when she was in love with the Pakistan-born heart surgeon Hasnat Khan