William and Kate pay tribute to Mumbai attack victims as Indian tour begins


The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have heard first-hand about the horrors of the Mumbai terror attacks, as Kate wowed India with an outfit that embraced both Britain and Asia.

William and Kate began their tour of India by having garlands placed around their necks as they arrived at Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace hotel - where 31 staff and guests were killed in the 2008 assault.

Dubbed "WillKat" by the Indian media, William wore a smart suit while the Duchess looked stunning in a red, paisley-themed outfit by Alexander McQueen that blended Indian colour with British couture. It had a skirt split at the front over a black underskirt - a feature borrowed heavily from Asian tradition.

The inaugural engagement of their first visit to India began in sombre mood when they laid a wreath at a memorial in the hotel to those who died on the premises.

The Duke and Duchess placed a floral tribute of white lilies between 32 burning candles, with the message: "In memory of those who lost their lives and those injured in the senseless atrocities at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. William, Catherine."

The royal couple are staying at the Taj as a show of support for the city in the wake of the attacks, which remain fresh in the memory eight years on.

At the memorial they were introduced to hotel chef Raghu Deora, 41, who was shot in the stomach and in the leg as he helped guests to safety.

The Duke asked him about what happened on the day, while the Duchess said: "It must have been a surreal time."

Mr Deora said: "The Duke asked me what happened to me and I explained how I was shot. He asked me how long I took to recover, and I said six months, with the last operation two years ago."

The Duchess asked him about his cooking, and if he had a speciality, to which he replied that he specialises in local dishes.

Mr Deora also cooked the couple's lunch, which included a starter of vegetable kebabs and main courses including lentil curry with rice, ricotta cheese and okra.

He said: "It is all vegetarian because I was told that was what they preferred."

The couple were also introduced to Sunil Kudiyadi, the hotel's security manager, who called police and the security services to the scene and helped save guests' lives.

The Duke told him: "You're very brave, you saved a lot of lives. Well done."

The couple are just the latest royal guests at the hotel: King George V and Queen Mary stayed in 1905 and 1911 - the hotel's famous gateway was built specially for their visit - and the Prince of Wales stayed at the hotel in 2013.

In November, US President Barack Obama became the first foreign head of state to stay at the Taj after the attacks, and he described the hotel as "the symbol of the strength and the resilience of the Indian people".

William and Kate's arrival in India came as news broke that at least 100 people had been killed in an explosion and fire sparked by fireworks in the southern state of Kerala.

A Kensington Palace spokesman said: "Upon their arrival this morning, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were informed about the tragic fire in Kollam.

"Their royal highnesses are saddened by the news and send their thoughts to all who are assisting the victims."