William and Kate preparing for first official visit to Pakistan
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are set to embark on a royal tour of Pakistan on Monday amid political tensions and security concerns in the region.
It will be the royal couple’s first official visit to Pakistan and their “most complex” tour to date, according to Kensington Palace.
Their trip – at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office – comes during heightened tensions between Pakistan and India over the disputed region of Kashmir.
Authorities in Delhi and Islamabad both claim the Himalayan region in full, but each controls a section of the territory – recognised internationally as “Indian-administered Kashmir” and “Pakistan-administered Kashmir”.
Skirmishes between the two sides at the de-facto border have increased this year, causing troop and civilian casualties.
William and Kate will visit Pakistan between October 14 and 18, with an itinerary which includes a range of occasions and locations.
Details of their engagements will be released day by day due to “security considerations”, the couple’s communications secretary said.
Their visit will span more than 1,000km of the country – including capital Islamabad, the city of Lahore, the mountainous countryside in the north and border regions to the west.
The royal couple are expected to meet leaders from government and well-known cultural figures and sporting stars, as well as visiting programmes which empower young people.
They will also cover how communities in Pakistan are responding and adapting to climate change, and are due to spend time understanding the “complex security picture” of the region.
A Kensington Palace statement ahead of the visit said the duke and duchess were “looking forward to building a lasting friendship with the people of Pakistan”.
Their tour of Pakistan comes more than 13 years since the last royal visit – seen as one of the most perilous royal foreign tours for some time – when the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall travelled to the country in 2006.
William will be following in the footsteps of both his parents, as Diana, Princess of Wales, made the journey several times through her charity work.