ISLAMABAD – The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Catherine, departed London on Monday for a five-day visit to Pakistan – described as the “most complex” overseas tour by the royal couple due to security and logistical issues.
Prince William and his wife Kate are the first royals to visit the country since 2006, when the Prince of Wales Charles and his wife Camila visited the country in 2006.
They will cover a distance of more than 1,000 kilometers across the country, with stops in the capital Islamabad, the eastern city of Lahore and even the mountainous northern region to experience “Pakistan’s rich culture, its diverse communities, and beautiful landscapes.”
“(The visit) will focus largely on showcasing Pakistan as it is today: a dynamic, aspirational and forward looking nation,” British High Commissioner to Pakistan Thomas Drew said in a video published on Twitter.
The Duke and Duchess would pay tribute to the long-standing ties between the United Kingdom and Pakistan, which was part of British India until its independence in 1947.
“I’ve always been struck by the warmth in Pakistan towards the Royal Family,” Drew said.
The Kensington Palace – the media center for the Royal couple – said in a statement that the two would “visit programs which empower young people,” adding that “access to quality education, particularly to girls and young women, is one of the UK’s top priorities in Pakistan.”
The detailed itinerary of William and Kate has not been made public due to security concerns, which have been in focus ahead of the visit.
“This is the most complex tour undertaken by The Duke and Duchess to date, given the logistical and security considerations,” the statement added.
Pakistan has witnessed high levels of sectarian and Islamist violence, which killed around 70,000 people between 2001 and 2015, although the situation has improved drastically in recent years, with a drop in extremist and terrorist activities after a series of military operations.
The UK’s flag carrier British Airways resumed flights to Islamabad in June, after a gap of more than 10 years, having suspended services following an attack on a luxury hotel which killed 54 people, including six British citizens.
William’s mother, Princess Diana, visited the country in 1996 to participate in collecting funds for a cancer hospital, established by former cricketer and current Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is set to meet the Duke and Duchess during the visit.