As excitement mounts ahead of William and Kate’s royal tour of Pakistan, we have been wondering – what will they be doing during this tour? Due to security concerns, this tour is one of the most complex royal visits ever, making it difficult to know where William and Kate will be, or what they will be doing. To learn more about Pakistan’s rich culture, and make some predictions about what we can expect, we chatted with royal watcher Zara, from Karachi, Pakistan, who runs the @RoyalSpotlight account on Twitter.
Zara has loved the royal family since she was a child, inspired by her family’s time spent living in the UK before she was born. Her mother spoke so highly of Diana, Princess of Wales, and that admiration was passed from mother to daughter. Following Diana’s tragic death, she kept up with William and Kate’s romance and the excitement of the 2011 royal wedding. “I was in class at my university on the day of their wedding, and sneakily watched it with my friends on our laptops!” she recalls. Zara answered some of our questions about the upcoming tour, shed some light on what we might expect to see next week, and taught us a bit about Pakistan’s culture:
WWKD: Why is this visit so important to the people of Pakistan?
Z: I think this visit is important because, although there is not much of a following for William and Kate specifically, people do have a connection because of Diana. She was popular amongst the people here for many reasons, including the fact that she was close friends with Jemima Goldsmith, who is the ex-wife of the current Prime Minister Imran Khan. Diana visited Pakistan at least thrice to support his venture of creating Pakistan’s largest cancer hospital. In many ways, I see this visit as the couple retracing Diana’s footsteps here in the country. They will be visiting some places that Diana went during her travels to the country.
WWKD: That is so amazing to see history repeating itself! Are there any iconic monuments, historical landmarks, or important places you definitely hope they visit?
Z: I certainly hope that they visit the Lahore Fort (a 16th century fort built by the Mughals in Lahore, which was one of the three cities from where the Mughals ruled the India Empire – the other two were Delhi and Agra), the Badshahi Mosque (also a Mughal era mosque and one of the largest in the world in terms of capacity). I also expect the couple to visit Chitral (a town in northern Pakistan in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – also visited by Diana) where they could meet with members of the Kalasha community (the only surviving indigenous community in Pakistan, which alleges to trace its roots to Alexander the Great) and meet the Chitral Scouts (this is a region and province that is particularly working towards conservation of its natural heritage, specially the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme, so I expect that they will be meeting that organization because they have already had an engagement with the Aga Khan in London). I also hope that during the visit, they will meet with Siraj ul Mulk, who is the eldest son of the last ruler of the former princely state of Chitral, and stay at a fantastic hotel run by him called Hindukush Heights. Additionally, they will certainly visit some local organizations and meet with people who are working alongside the British Council on arts and education programs. I do expect at least one engagement with the Pakistan Air Force, due to William’s background with the RAF. Some members of the Armed Forces of Pakistan are frequently sent to Sandhurst for training, so there’s a connection there as well.
WWKD: Those places sound incredible. We would love to see them visit and spotlight those historic and cultural landmarks! As far as fashion, what styles of traditional clothing would you like to see Kate wear?
Z: I would love to see Kate in the traditional shalwar kameez, just like Diana during her visits to Pakistan! However, she may also wear clothes that incorporate elements of local crafts depending on the places she visits. In Chitral, she could wear the pakhol, which is local to the area. Additionally, throughout the tour, she may choose to wear a smaller version of the dupatta (a long scarf), incorporating elements from local artisans.
WWKD: Pakistan has a rich food culture, and the food is known to be delicious! Are there any particularly well-known foods you hope they try?
Z: I have learnt that Kate enjoys a good curry, so I really hope they get to have some delicious food during their visit! Lahore is particularly renowned for its food, so I hope they try some local BBQ also known as tikka, chicken karhai, nihari (a slow-cooked meat stew – yes, we like our meat!!) For desserts, I do hope they try some sweetmeat (gulab jamuns, laddu, barfi), gajar ka halwa (carrot based dessert), jalebis, and ras malai (my personal favorite!). You can find some more information on those desserts here: https://www.brandsynario.com/13-best-desi-desserts-in-pakistan-everyone-should-try/.
Editors Note: The linked recipes have been recommended by Zara as authentic versions of these dishes – and sound DELICIOUS
WWKD: Those sound delicious. We are hungry just thinking about it. Any final thoughts on their visit?
Z: I am really excited for William and Kate’s first visit to Pakistan. I hope their visit highlights the tremendous beauty, talent, and resilience of the country and its people, and serves to change the very negative image that the western media continues to portray about my country. Pakistan is a diverse country with its population belonging to different ethnicities, and it is home to hundreds of languages, incredible food, and an energized youth that is striving to work for the betterment of its country. It is home to civilizations dating back to neolithic times, and has a rich history and culture, which I hope William and Kate will highlight during their visit.
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
We are so grateful to Zara for answering our questions! Be sure to follow her on Twitter at @RoyalSpotlight