The arranged engagements and visits for William and Catherine’s visit to India and Bhutan in April have been announced; the itinerary includes visiting a slum, conservation at a national park and hiking in the Bhutanese mountains.
Will and Kate will fly on a scheduled overnight service with an entourage of 11, but likely not with Prince George and Princess Charlotte; they hope to focus on India’s historic relationship with Britain, as well as the problems it faces and the great work being done with charities and business.
Kensington Palace’s statement says the couple is ‘pleased to have this chance to contribute to the on-going partnership between Britain and India’.
10th April – Will and Kate in Mumbai:
Starting in India, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will arrive in Mumbai on 10th April for the tour on behalf of the British Government.
Their first public engagement after arriving will be at the Taj Palace Hotel, which was one of the scenes of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November 2008 and is now an iconic symbol of the city’s resilience and strength. The Duke and Duchess will lay a wreath at the hotel’s memorial, and meet members of staff who helped protect guests during the attack. Prince Charles has also visited this location.
It is then to Oval Maidan, a large public park with a great view of the city. Here, they will watch a young people’s cricket match and also meet representatives and beneficiaries of three charities here – Magic Bus, Doorstep, and India’s Childline, even having a go at the game themselves, which they did on their 2014 tour in New Zealand. The Palace hints at ‘a couple of surprises’ in the park that day.
Banganga Water Tank is next on the agenda, an ancient water tank in the Malabar Hill area of Mumbai. William and Catherine will see a local slum, and meet representatives of a charity called SMILE, which seeks to help disadvantaged people focuses on skills and opportunities.
Bollywood Royalty will meet British Royalty that evening, when the couple attend a reception and dinner to honour Mumbai’s film and creative industries. This will be hosted by The British High Commission in partnership with The British Asian Trust, of which The Prince of Wales is founder and President; the event will raise funds for the three aforementioned charities.
11th April – New Delhi:
The next morning, William and Catherine will meet with young entrepreneurs – who will power the Indian economy of the future – at a GREAT campaign event.
From here, the couple will fly to New Delhi, the capital. Another wreath-laying begins this leg of the tour, at India Gate. The towering red standstone structure is India’s main war memorial, marking lives lost in the two world wars, the Third Anglo-Afghan War, and the Indo Pakistan War of 1971. The centenary of WWI is currently being commemorated, and so William and Kate will particularly remember the 70,000 Indian soldiers who fought in the conflict.
Mahatma Ghandi will be acknowledge later that day, as the couple travel to Gandhi Smriti, Old Birla House, to see the place where Ghandi spent the last few years of his life. They will take a tour and retrace the leader’s footsteps to the garden, where he was assassinated in 1948.
That evening The Duke and Duchess will attend a garden party to celebrate The Queen’s 90th birthday at the residence of the British High Commissioner. Here, the Duke will give a speech and pay tribute to Her Majesty’s lifelong service to her people.
12th April – Assam:
Details of this morning are vague, as the final details are finalised. William and Catherine are to see the support vulnerable young people get in Delhi, followed by a meeting with a senior government leader. The Duke and Duchess will also have a private meeting with NGOs working in the city before leaving for Assam.
Kaziranga National Park, in the state of Assam, comes next, a place which the Duke has ‘long wanted to visit’. Conservation and the locals is the key focus here. The park is a World Heritage Site and a wildlife conservation site of great global importance; Kaziranga is home to two-thirds of the world’s population of Indian one-horned rhinoceros.
The evening visit will allow The Duke and Duchess to see up close work being done to manage the conflicts that arise when humans and wild animals live in close proximity. Coinciding with the Assamese New Year, Will and Kate will sit around a campfire to meet local people and see dance and musical performances.
13th April – conservation focus:
An early start will see the couple go for an open-air drive around the park itself, meet rangers and discuss conservation, something the Duke is keen to do as president of United for Wildlife. The park has a fragile ecosystem, which global warming could knock off balance if it continues. William is to ‘speak out against the lies and violence that threaten’ the rhinos of Kaziranga.
In the afternoon, they will visit the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation. The centre provides emergency care and rehabilitation to wild animals that have been injured, displaced, or orphaned. Before leaving CWRC, The Duke and Duchess will meet young filmmakers.
Perhaps a poignant part of the trip will be to travel across the road to the Kaziranga Discovery Centre; this was built by Elephant Family, the charity founded by Mark Shand, late brother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
At the centre, the parents of George and Charlotte will see a first of its kind health clinic for working elephants and an elephant information centre. The couple will help put the finishing touches on an elephant sculpture to officially mark the ‘call for artists’ for India’s elephant parade, where 200 elephants are decorated by artists and placed in 200 locations across India by the Elephant Family – one was held in London last year, which numerous Royals attended.
14th April – Bhutan:
The Duke and Duchess will fly to Bhutan on this day, arriving at Paro airport. From here, the British couple will depart for a scenic drive to the capital city of Thimphu.
The small mountainous Kingdom has been ranked as the happiest country in all of Asia and the eighth happiest country in the world; it prioritises the happiness of its citizens, and became a democratic Constitutional Monarchy less than a decade ago.
In the afternoon, they will travel to the Thimphu Dzong where they will take part in a Chipdrel, a traditional welcome procession, complete with music and ceremonial dress. Inside the Dzong, they will have a private audience with The King and Queen, who recently welcomed a baby boy. A blessing will follow as will the lighting of butter lamps.
Archery – Bhutan’s national sport – is next on the agenda, as Will and Kate go to the open-air archery venue, located in the heart of the small city.
The Duke and Duchess will have a private dinner with The King and Queen at Lingkana Palace this evening.
15th April – hiking:
Hiking is the order of the day – up to six hours of it! Bhutan is renowned for its incredible landscapes thanks to its location in the Himalayas. The Duke and Duchess will hike to Paro Taktsang, the Tiger’s Nest monastery, a late 17th century building.
Returning to Thimphu that evening, Prince and Princess William are to attend a reception for British nationals in Bhutan, and Bhutanese people with strong links to the UK.
The couple will leave Bhutan to head back to India.
At the Taj Mahal in Agra, the couple will thank the Indian people for their hospitality. The Duke has said he ‘feels incredibly lucky’ to be visiting the place his mother – Diana, Princess of Wales – did 24 years ago. The image of her on the bench outside the 17th century mausoleum is iconic.