It was described as the “most complex tour undertaken by The Duke and Duchess to date”, yet there was nothing ‘complex’ about William and Kate’s magic touch as they charmed Pakistan and single-handedly transformed the once-troubled country’s image. Whether it be meeting locals or dazzling in traditional Pakistan fashion, the Cambridge’s effortlessly reminded the world why this Royal couple are truly unrivalled on the world stage.
From the very moment they stepped off RAF Voyager (the official aircraft of the royal family when travelling abroad) the entire world seemed to stop and catch their breath. It would be fair to say that the Duchess caused the biggest reaction, wearing a stunning Catherine Walker Shalwar Kameez. And as the flashbulbs ignited, William and Kate seemed at ease, excited and determined to showcase the best of their host country.
The five-day tour was jampacked with engagements, each one defined by the issues the Duke and Duchess have used to build their strong charitable foundation. The effects of climate change were highlighted by a visit to a melting glacier. Kate’s determined advocacy for early intervention was expertly showcased by visiting the SOS Children’s Village in Lahore, and we’ve seen images and videos of the couple respecting a reading of the Quran in the Badshahi Mosque.
Whilst, on the surface, it may have looked like a usual tour of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, underneath the pictures, which day after day adorned the front pages of the national newspapers, it was obvious this visit was about something much more meaningful.
Pakistan has had its problems throughout the years. It has been the hotbed for brutal conflict, the location of where Al Qaeda Leader, Osama Bin Laden, hid from capture. Ignorantly, when heard the Cambridge’s would be stepping foot in Pakistan, alarm bells rang. How astonishing then that after five-days of engagements those naysayers, including myself, couldn’t have been more wrong.
The sheer defining purpose of a Royal tour is to achieve two simple goals. One, promote ‘brand Britain’ and the Royal Family as a useful force of soft diplomacy. Two, encourage promotion of the country the Royal’s visit. When done correctly, the effects can be astronomically positive. If done wrongly, then the taxpayer is left asking, what’s the point?
William and Kate have not only adhered to those two sacred goals of a Royal Tour, but aptly, when The Duke comfortably struck a ‘six’ in a game of Cricket at the National Cricket Academy, they have hit them out of the park.
Through genuine compassion, warmth, fun and an eagerness to learn, they have showcased Pakistan as the country it has always deserved to be – a colourful, enveloping community of hospitable people, who want the world to see their beloved country as much more than the war-torn troubles of the past.
What the Cambridge’s have achieved with Pakistan, is something deeply unique. They have immersed themselves into the vibrant culture, without making their actions feel forced. They have navigated the complex issues facing Pakistan with a diplomatic prowess, many politicians, dignitaries and perhaps even other members of their own family never could. They have changed the face of Pakistan on the global stage, ensuring that the world takes notice.
Against this universal accomplishment, we cannot forget that for the Duke of Cambridge, Pakistan was always expected to ignite the memory of his beloved mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. The late-Princess visited in 1991, 1995 and for her final time in 1996. With each tour the people of Pakistan fell in love with her. Twenty-three years later, the same has happened with her son and daughter-in-law.
But, in what has been a smart move by William, he has purposefully refused to walk in her footsteps, shrouded by her iconic shadow. Instead, he has decided to pave a different path, one which draws parallels to his late mother. They may occasionally cross, but William stands on his own, generating a similar brand of magic. He uplifts her legacy instead of being defined by it.
When the Duke and Duchess stepped through the doors of the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, it was inevitable that comparisons to Diana would be made. And in some cases, it was hard not to see them. William was photographed playing with a young boy, a patient of the hospital. For those who had hope to see the Duchess in a tiara, they finally got their wish when she fitted a plastic one atop her envious hair to play with a young girl receiving treatment.
Image after image emerged portraying that “Diana touch”, but something was different to the late Princess. Those who had followed William’s mother have consistently praised Diana for her unique understanding of the power a photograph could generate. William and Kate, however, have demonstrated that they are a royal couple whose power lies beyond the borders of a photograph.
They are genuinely engaged, choosing meaningful dialogue away from the one-line hashtags of the world today. There are no gimmicks with the Cambridge’s, and whilst each engagement will come with its own natural PR, William and Kate never show it. Each decision feels like their own.
They can tackle issues that can be divisive, like Climate Change, and yet manage to avoid the condemnations of hypocrisy. Kate can step from a rickshaw wearing a ‘knock-your-socks-off’ Jenny Packman dress and enjoy the fact that, on the night, her husband outshines her in the fashion stakes. This is a couple who aren’t competing with one another, or anyone else for that matter. The Cambridge’s know their worth, their power and their position within society.
The Duke and Duchess give us the best of both worlds, style and substance in equal measure. They can dazzle the press at an evening reception at the Pakistan Monument, whilst highlighting issues that matter to them, like Climate Change. They can entertain the famous of Pakistan, whilst connecting with the forgotten settlements in the Hindu Kush Mountains. They are a force to be reckoned with, but one where anyone from anywhere can benefit from it.
Many thought whether the interest in this Royal Tour would match previous ones the Cambridge’s have embarked on. With their adorable children staying at home, could the royal couple still generate blockbuster coverage? To put it simply, yes.
There may not be the drama that emanates from other Royal couples, which naturally aim for the headlines, but William and Kate manage to make their own, drama-free. This is a couple who will one day sit at the head of Britain’s Royal Family, the Church of England, the Commonwealth and be the figureheads of an entire country.
Their tour of Pakistan proves, they’re not only ready to take their seats, but they’re actively prepared for us to sit alongside them.
In Pakistan, the country has fallen in love with our next Prince and Princess of Wales and our future King and Queen. And thus, we have all fallen in love with Pakistan. This Royal Tour has been so much more than a success; it is the door of the Monarchy’s future gently and tentatively opening with a confidence from a couple who know their impact matters. They’re undaunted by the fame, the press, the attention. For William and Kate, it is the natural territory that comes with royalty.
For five-days, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have shone brighter than ever beneath a white-hot light of fame and interest that will never dim. With this Royal Tour they have directed it towards a new Pakistan, and in the process reminded the world, that no matter how ‘complex’ a tour maybe, William and Kate will always knock it out of the park.