All smiles as Britain's William and Kate meet Pakistan PM Khan

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were greeted with handshakes by a smiling Khan, who first met William when the prince was a young boy, on the steps at the Prime Minister's House in the capital.

Britain's Prince William (C), Duke of Cambridge, and his wife Catherine (R), Duchess of Cambridge, meet with school children during their visit to a government-run school in Islamabad on 15 October 2019. Picture: AFP

ISLAMABAD - Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan gave a warm welcome in Islamabad Tuesday to Britain's Prince William, the son of his late friend Princess Diana, who is on his first official trip to the country with his wife Kate.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were greeted with handshakes by a smiling Khan, who first met William when the prince was a young boy, on the steps at the Prime Minister's House in the capital.

Pakistani media simultaneously aired archive images of Diana with Khan -- then a World Cup-winning cricketer who had just launched his political career -- during her own visits to Pakistan more than 20 years ago.

Kate wore a traditional Pakistani dress in vibrant green and white with a dark green dupatta, or long scarf, draped over her shoulder -- a change from earlier in the day, when she wore a royal blue shalwar kameez, traditional Pakistani long shirt with trousers.

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have arrived in Pakistan! ‎ڈیوک اور ڈچز آف کیمبرج پاکستان تشریف لا چکے ہیں۔ The Duke and Duchess’s first official visit to the country will pay respect to the historical relationship between Britain and Pakistan, but will largely focus on showcasing Pakistan as it is today — a dynamic, aspirational and forward-looking nation. ‎ڈیوک اور ڈچز آف کیمبرج کا پاکستان کا پہلا شاہی دورہ برطانیہ اور پاکستان کے مابین تاریخی تعلقات کی عزت افزائی ہے، لیکن زیادہ تر توجہ موجودہ دور کے پاکستان بحیثیت ایک متحرک، زندہ و جاوید اور دور اندیش ملک کی ترویج پر ہوگی۔ From the modern leafy capital Islamabad, to the vibrant city of Lahore, the mountainous countryside in the North, and the rugged border regions to the West, the visit will span over 1000km, and will take in Pakistan’s rich culture, its diverse communities, and its beautiful landscapes. ‎شاہی دورہ جدید طرز پر تعمیر شدہ سر سبز دارالحکومت اسلام آباد سے زندہ دلوں کے شہر لاہور، عظیم پہاڑی سلسلوں پر مشتمل شمالی علاقہ جات اور مغرب کی جانب ناہموار سرحدی علاقوں تک ہزار کلو میٹر سے زائد سفر پر مشتمل ہوگا۔‪ ‬اس دوران پاکستان کی بھرپور ثقافت، مختلف ثقافتوں پر مشتمل آبادیوں اور اس کے خوبصورت مناظر سے آگاہی اور لطف اندوز ہونے کا موقع ملے گا۔ 📷 Kensington Palace #RoyalVisitPakistan #pakistan

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But the Duke opted for Western attire again -- a dark suit and tie.

The couple were due to lunch with Khan before he heads to Saudi Arabia later Tuesday, where he is expected to continue his mission to help defuse tensions in the Gulf by facilitating talks between Riyadh and Tehran.

It came after a busy morning for Kate and William, the first British royals to come to Pakistan since William's father Charles visited with his wife Camilla in 2006.

The couple launched their five-day tour of the deeply patriarchal South Asian country by signalling their support for women's education with a visit to a girls school in Islamabad.

They dropped in on a mathematics class, where televised images showed them sitting with some of the young students, whose blue uniforms matched the Duchess's dress.

A video tweeted by a British reporter accompanying the couple showed William smiling as he was told the girls were "big fans" of his mother, who died in a car crash in 1997.

"That's very sweet of you," he could be heard saying in the video. "I was a big fan of my mother too."

Education official Khadija Bakhtiar told AFP that the couple helped some of the students solve problems.


William and Kate spent roughly half an hour at the government-run school before they were waved off by smiling students.

They were whisked away under heavy security to visit the Margallas, the Himalayan foothills that nestle Islamabad, where they could be seen walking with conservationists in the sun.

William and Kate also met President Arif Alvi, and later Tuesday they are expected to attend a reception in their honour.

Security is extremely tight for the five-day visit, during which the couple is set to visit Pakistan's second-largest city Lahore -- once the capital of the Mughal Empire -- as well as the mountainous north and the region near the border with Afghanistan in the west.

Meeting young people and promoting education is one of their priorities for the trip, Kensington Palace has said. Nearly half of Pakistani school-age children -- 23 million -- do not attend school, UNICEF says.

Girls are particularly sidelined from education in a country where women have struggled for basic rights for decades.

For many in Pakistan, nostalgia for Diana has lain heavy over the trip.

She first charmed Pakistanis with an official visit in 1991, and is remembered fondly for her efforts on later private visits to help Khan raise money for a charity cancer hospital.

It is not clear if the Duke and Duchess will see Khan again after Tuesday.