UK's Prince William, Kate tour Pakistani cultural hub Lahore
LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — Britain's Prince William and wife Kate toured Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore on Thursday, where they undertook an emotional visit to a cancer hospital previously visited by William's mother, the late Princess Diana.
The Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre was started in the early 1990s by the cricket-hero-turned-politician Imran Khan, who is now Pakistan's prime minister, and whose first wife Jemima Goldsmith was a friend of the late princess.
William and Kate's visit brought back memories for many Pakistanis who still love the late Lady Diana for her humanitarian work. Diana visited the facility in the 1990s and met with cancer patients and attended a fund-raising event. The hospital says it has been providing free treatment to 75% of its patients for the last 24 years.
Also on Thursday, the royal couple played cricket with children and members of Pakistan's cricket team at the National Cricket Academy. Their day began with a birthday party for three orphaned children at a charitable organization, SOS Children's Village. They chatted with the children and Kate spoke in Urdu to congratulate them.
William and Kate later visited the historic Badshahi mosque, also previously visited by William's mother during one of her visits to Lahore. According to Britain's Press Association, William and Kate walked on a red carpet through the holy building with the prayer leader before being given a tour of the inside, where they heard a verse from Islam's holy book.
The couple's day ended with an unscheduled event: The Royal Air Force Voyager aircraft transporting them back to Islamabad had to abort two landing attempts in the capital due to severe weather and was forced to return to Lahore.
Britain's Press Association reported the plane shook with heavy turbulence and lightning strikes could be seen nearby. William, an experienced air ambulance pilot, joked with reporters afterward that he had been flying the plane through the storm.
Since arriving in Pakistan, the royal couple have been advocating for girls' education and visited a girl's school in Islamabad. They addressed climate change while in Pakistan's northern region, where glaciers are melting at an alarming rate.
Upon their arrival, the couple met with Pakistan's President Arif Alvi and Khan, who had lunch with them at his sprawling office. Pakistani authorities have deployed hundreds of police and paramilitary security forces for the protection of the visiting royal couple, who were expected return home Friday.
Associated Press writer Greg Katz in London contributed to this report.