Bollywood and cricket on menu during royal tour of India and Bhutan


The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge begin their tour of India today and will experience everything from Bollywood glamour to the country's passion for cricket.

William and Kate are making their first trip to the country and over the coming days will develop a "personal relationship" the world's largest democracy.

Highlights of the tour will see them visit the Taj Mahal - famously visited by Diana, Princess of Wales - where the royal couple hope to create "new memories''.

They will pay their respects to India's founding father Mahatma Gandhi at the place where he was assassinated in New Delhi in 1948 and will tour the Kaziranga National Park, home to two thirds of the world's great one-horned rhinoceroses as well as tigers and elephants.

And this evening they will be joined by Bollywood and sporting royalty during a charity fundraising reception and dinner staged in Mumbai - the home of India's famous film industry - to celebrate the city's movie and creative industries.

Film star Shah Rukh Khan - known as King Khan by his fans - and cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar will walk the welcoming red carpet as will Bollywood actor Aamir Khan, actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and other movie celebrities including Rishi Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan and Farhan Akhtar.

India's slum children have a burning question to ask the Duke and Duchess when they arrive in India later today - why do you live in such a big house?

Youngsters from poverty-stricken homes are excited about the prospect of meeting William and Kate when they start their seven-day tour of India and Bhutan in Mumbai.

Schooled by the Door Step School, which provides classes for children who work to help support their families, 25 of the pupils will be among youngsters from other charities who will attend an open-air cricket event with the Cambridges later today.

One little girl - 10-year-old Saniya Puniya Chauhan - summed up the feeling of her classmates, who go to school in a slum close to Mumbai's financial district, when she marvelled at the size of the Cambridges's home after being shown pictures on the internet.

Speaking through an interpreter she said: ''I'm wondering how can they live in such a big house, how big is their house and how do they call each other, and what do they call.''

The youngster who lives with her parents and six siblings in a one room home which is around 8ft square added: ''I'm wondering what kind of clothes they wear and how do they speak in such a big house.''

The Cambridges' main home is their mansion Anmer Hall in Norfolk and they also have a London base - an apartment in Kensington Palace.

Bina Sheth Lashkari, founder of the Door Step School which caters for three to nine-year-olds, said many of the children had many questions for the royal visitors after viewing pictures of the couple on the internet.

She said: ''We went online and showed them some of the pictures. When they saw them they had a large number of questions.

''They said if it was the same princess from the fairy tales. One of the girls asked if she has big hair like Rapunzel.''

Her organisation runs around 70 schools in Mumbai and Pune, which provides classes that fit around the working lives of the children who earn can earn 200-300 rupees a day (£2-£3) doing menial jobs like gutting fish, or selling goods at traffic lights.

Her students will meet William and Kate at Mumbai's famous Oval Maiden public park this afternoon, where the royal couple will join youngsters playing cricket and meet representatives from three charities - school transport organisation Magic Bus, the Door Step School and India's Childline. Tendulkar is also expected to be among the guests on the pitch.

The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel was one of the scenes of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November 2008 and the royal couple will follow in the footsteps of other figures including the Prince of Wales and lay a wreath at a memorial inside the hotel during the day.

At the Bollywood extravaganza up to six figures is expected to be raised for the three charities that will take part in the cricket event.

The Cambridges' seven-day trip to Asia will also see the royal couple visit the mountainous kingdom of Bhutan where they will meet the nation's glamorous King and Queen.

King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema have attracted the attention of royal watchers across the globe since their marriage in 2011, and even been compared to William and Kate.