‘I won’t take it off’: William and Kate given friendship bracelets in Pakistan
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were given friendship bracelets on an unexpected second visit to an orphanage in Pakistan.
William and Kate returned to the SOS Children’s Village in Lahore on the last day of their tour, having already made the trip the day before, after they were forced to stay overnight in the Punjab capital.
The RAF Voyager plane carrying the couple had to abort two landings in the Pakistani capital Islamabad on Thursday and turn back to Lahore following a thunderstorm.
According to royal sources, the duchess was particularly keen to return to the organisation, which provides support to more than 150 orphans in boarding houses.
They met some young Pakistanis during the visit on Friday morning who have been supported by the village and now mentor some of its younger residents.
Among them was Saba Shahzadi, 28, who first came when she was eight following the death of her grandmother.
Ms Shahzadi, now a manager for Nestle in Pakistan, who still acts as a mentor to the children, told the couple she couldn’t “imagine what would happened if I hadn’t found SOS”.
“That nurturing of this place really comes through. It’s like an arm wrapped around you,” the duke said.
“You have a network of friends here who are your family to support you. That’s even better than normal life.”
Kate, who has focused her recent work on children’s early years, told them: “Some of the things I’ve been looking at back home are how best do you support children and what do they need to have a successful life.
“One, it’s about quality relationships and two, the environment. What’s great is that you have both here.”
William also spoke of mental health during the visit, a topic he had raised with teachers at a government-run school in Islamabad on Tuesday.
“It’s important that people talk about it and it’s not too taboo. In the west, we don’t really focus on the emotional support,” he said.
“What you’re all doing is amazing and you’ve got two ambassadors in us.”
Referring to it being their second visit, Kate said she was “so glad we came back to get the full picture”, while William replied: “I could feel that there was more to talk about.”
The couple joined a group of children for an impromptu game of cricket, which saw the duke hit a softball which landed on his wife’s neck.
While Kate laughed and feigned pain, the duke told the children: “Ha! She’s my wife, so I can just about get away with it.”
After a brief turn at batting by the duchess, the couple knelt on the ground as a group of children tied friendship bracelets on each of their wrists – a pink one for the duchess and a blue one for the duke.
“Thank you so much for the bracelet,” William said. “I won’t take it off.
“My children will wonder why I’m wearing it.”
The royal couple also joined the children for an art group and knelt on the floor to join in with the painting, where the duke admitted: “I’m not very good at art.”
While William helped to paint an octopus, Kate began drawing a palm tree, and said: “I’m really enjoying this, I do lots of drawing at home with my children.
“I have three: George, Charlotte and Louis – he’s a baby, he’s one and a half.”
After the children mentioned England, the duchess said: “You will have to come and see us.”
The royal couple returned to the UK on Friday after a five-day visit to the country.