Excitement Builds for Pakistan Tour, the Cambridges’ ‘Most Complex Yet’

Excitement is building for the upcoming royal visit to Pakistan starting in just ten days. Below, a countdown to the tour as shown on the UK in Pakistan Facebook page. 

Details about the tour were released today, and media covering the trip were formally briefed at Buckingham Palace this afternoon.

As noted in the release, the five-day tour that begins Monday, October 14, is being undertaken at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The trip “…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”. Among the places on the schedule:

  • Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital city.

  • Lahore, the capital of the province of Punjab. Below, Badshahi Mosque in Lahore.

  • the “rugged border regions to the West”
  • the “mountainous countryside in the north”

Today’s briefing notes explain that “Pakistan hosts one of Britain’s largest overseas networks, with the British High Commission in Islamabad being one of the UK’s largest diplomatic missions in the world.” An aide underscored the importance of the relationship between the two countries, commenting at today’s briefing that, “What happens in Pakistan matters on the streets of Britain.”

Below, the Duke and Duchess at this week’s reception at the Aga Khan Centre celebrating the country’s culture and people. 

The couple at a private meeting before the reception that included the UK’s Ambassador to Pakistan, Thomas Drew, as well as Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK, Nafees Zakaria.  

More about the focus areas for the tour:

  • The Duke & Duchess will “visit programmes which empower young people, and organisations that help ensure they have the best possible start in life. Access to quality education, particularly to girls and young women is one of the UK’s top priorities in Pakistan. The Duke and Duchess are looking forward to spending time meeting young Pakistanis, and hearing more about their aspirations for the future.”
  • They will see how “communities in Pakistan are rapidly responding and adapting to the effects of climate change… a key area of interest”.
  • Kate and William are scheduled to meet “a wide variety of people, including children and young people, leaders from government, business and the charity sector, inspiring conservationists, and well-known cultural figures and sporting stars.”

This is the first official visit to the country by the British Royal Family since the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall were there in 2006. Below, the couple as they were leaving an archaeological site near Islamabad in October 2006. 

HM visited the country in 1961 and again in 1997. Below, the Queen and Prince Philip at a dinner in Lahore in February 1961.
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Diana, Princess of Wales, visited the country multiple times. Here you see her at a reception in her honor in October 1991.
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And here you see the late Princess in 1996 with close friend Jemima Khan, neé Goldsmith, who was married to Imran Khan (r), the World Cup-winning captain of Pakistan’s national cricket team in 1992 and a philanthropist. The couple divorced in 2004. Ms. Goldsmith is now a media producer, and Mr. Khan is Pakistan’s Prime Minister.  

This trip will be markedly different from previous tours in terms of the information flow. There was no itinerary released today, nor will there be going forward. Scheduling details and specifics about engagements will be embargoed, as referenced in this tweet from the Daily Mail’s Rebecca English

That speaks to the security issues surrounding the trip. As noted in the official communique: “This is the most complex tour undertaken by The Duke and Duchess to date, given the logistical and security considerations.” More from the news release:

Their Royal Highnesses will also spend time understanding the complex security picture in Pakistan. They will learn more about the challenges and opportunities, both of the past and today. The UK has been a key partner for Pakistan, and The Duke and Duchess will meet UK and Pakistan military personnel who are sharing expertise to improve security.

In her story for Town and Country, Victoria Murphy notes that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office currently advises against travel by the public to some parts of Pakistan. 

As seen on the map, Pakistan is bordered by India, Afghanistan, Iran, China, and the Arabian Sea to the south. From The Mirror’s story by Tom Davidson:

William and Kate’s visit comes at a time of heightened tensions in Pakistan, as India recently revoked the special status of Kashmir, a territory at the centre of ownership debates between the two countries.

More about the entourage for the trip via Omid Scobie’s story for Harper’s Bazaar.

Flying with the couple on the Royal Air Force Voyager, a team of 14 will ensure everything runs meticulously to plan. Amongst the entourage are private secretaries Catherine Quinn and Simon Case and head of communications Christian Jones, with four other team members, two assistant private secretaries, two program coordinators, a palace assistant, an orderly, and a privately-funded hairstylist, believed to be Amanda Cook Tucker, for the duchess.

Some quick background notes.

  • The country is officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
  • Pakistan withdrew from the Commonwealth in 1972 but rejoined in 1989.
  • The flag features “a vertical white band (symbolizing the role of religious minorities) on the hoist side; a large white crescent and star are centered in the green field; the crescent, star, and color green are traditional symbols of Islam” per the CIA Factbook.

  • The national flower is the jasmine, shown below in an image from Pak Cultural Society.

  • The weather in mid-October will be warm, although it can be much cooler in the mountainous areas.

  • The time zone is PKT (Pakistan Standard Time), or GMT +5 hours. That translates to 9 hours ahead of the east coast in the US, 4 hours ahead of London. (At noon in Pakistan it is 8am in London, and 3am in NYC.)
  • None of the Cambridge children will be taking part in the tour.

We’ll likely see the Duchess in traditional dress at some point; we can also expect to see the national colors and perhaps even the flower reflected in her wardrobe.

NOTE: The post initially showed an incorrect photo of the country’s national flower.  Many thanks to Linda for her commenting setting me straight!

LINKAGE:

  • You can read the entire release by clicking here
  • The CIA’s World Factbook for Pakistan is here
  • The Evening Standard story is here; The Mirror’s piece is here
  • Hello’s piece is here; Simon Perry’s People article is here; Victoria Murphy’s Town and Country story is here; Omid Scobie’s Harper’s Bazaar piece is here

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