William and Kate miss Khyber Pass visit after thunderstorm flight delay


The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been forced to reschedule the last day of their Pakistan tour after their plane got caught in a thunderstorm.

William and Kate were due to fly over the Khyber Pass in an engagement on Friday, but a “pretty bad storm” saw their flight from Lahore to Islamabad turn back on Thursday evening.

The couple stayed at the Pearl Continental Hotel in the capital of Punjab overnight following two aborted landings by the RAF Voyager pilot.

Royal visit to Pakistan – Day Five
Royal visit to Pakistan – Day Five

Strikes of lightning could be seen from the carrier plane near the right wing as it shook with heavy turbulence.

William, who went to check on travelling media, made a reference to his time as an air ambulance pilot, joking: “I was flying!”

One passenger said it was a “pretty serious storm”, describing the flight as a “rollercoaster”.

Another said: “It was pretty hairy at times.

“The plane was making large jerking movements as we tried to battle through the wind.

“It was a relief to land safely in Lahore.”

Surprised guests were treated to a glimpse of the royal couple on Friday morning as they left the five-star hotel.

A crowd gathered in the foyer as William and Kate embarked on the last day of their tour.

The RAF Voyager landed in Islamabad after midday on Friday – some 18 hours after it was originally scheduled to arrive.

The couple’s visit to a military post in the Khyber Pass – on the border of Afghanistan – was called off due to lack of time following the unexpected overnight stay.

It would have involved a security briefing from the Khyber Rifles, highlighting improved relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Royal visit to Pakistan – Day Five
Royal visit to Pakistan – Day Five

The duke and duchess will still embark on their other scheduled engagement of the day – a visit to an army canine centre in Islamabad.

Modelled on the UK Defence Animal Training Centre at Melton Mowbray, the UK is currently supporting the Pakistan Counter Improvised Explosive Device (CIED) programme, which in part breeds and trains dogs to identify explosive devices.

William and Kate will join handlers as they train dogs to recognise and scout out hidden explosive materials.

The duke and duchess spent Thursday daytime exploring Lahore, visiting the Badshahi Mosque and the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre.

It brought back memories of William’s mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, as they were two locations she visited in the country.

William and Kate played with young patients at the cancer facility and were shown around by Dr Aasim Yusuf, who welcomed Diana in 1996.

The couple received a tour of the Badshahi Mosque in scenes reminiscent of the princess’s 1991 trip to Pakistan.