Today was the first day of the much awaited Royal Tour of India and Bhutan by TRH The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge. TRH arrived in Mumbai this morning, on a scheduled flight, rather than a private jet, as they had on previous tours.
Their first official engagement was at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, which is also where TRH are staying. The Hotel was a victim of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which saw 164 casualties. Fittingly their first engagement was to the onsite memorial that honours those who were killed in the 4-day siege. TRH placed a wreath at the memorial site, and chatted with members of the staff who had been affected by the attacks.
After a lunch cooked by hotel chef Raghu Deora, who had been shot during the attacks, and a change of clothes, TRH made their way to the second engagement of the day. Their destination was the famed Oval Maidan, which is one of Mumbai’s largest parks, where the Duke and Duchess played cricket with local children, who are supported by three charities- Childline India, Magic Bus and Door Step School. TRH met with children and representatives of each charity. The Duchess also played cricket with the legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar. He said afterwards: “What a fantastic experience it was to meet the Duke and Duchess. They were a remarkable couple and made us feel so comfortable. They were really humble. [The] noble causes they are supporting all over the world shows what heart they have. All I wanted to say is God Bless them both in what they do.”
Their next destination was one of the famous slums of Mumbai, which featured in the Oscar-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire. TRH met representatives of the charity SMILE. The couple were welcomed by the inhabitants of the slum, who demonstrated their lifestyle to TRH. The Duke also challenged a Bollywood dancer to a Hip-Hop battle, but backed out at the last minute. The main focus of the visit was on the historic Banganga Water Tank, which is a holy sight in Mumbai. TRH received garlands during their welcome, and scattered petals in the water. On their way back to the hotel, the Royal couple surprised passengers on a Tour bus. Their surprise appearance caused much delight to the passengers, who gathered around them.
The last engagement on day one was a glittering Gala with members of Bollywood. The event was hosted by The British High Commission and the British Asian Trust, Prince Charle’s charity, at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. The Gala dinner has been designed to raise money for Childline India, Magic Bus and Door Step School, the three charities that the Duke & Duchess met in the Oval Maidan. TRH met many Bollywood stars, including Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit, and Aishwarya Rai. the dinner was also attended by Indian politicians and members of charities. The menu was very grand, featuring a range of Indian dishes. After a Bollywood dance, the Duke made a speech.
HRH said: “My family has a long and proud connection with India, and although our relationship has evolved, my family’s high regard for India – the largest country in the Commonwealth – remains unchanged.””When Catherine and I were married, India was the first place on Catherine’s list that she told me that she wanted to visit.”, “Two children and five years later, we have finally made it – and we are both honoured to be here.” and “Catherine and I embark on a journey to get to know the vibrant India of the 21st century.”
The Duchess wore a red Alexander McQueen indian-inspired outfit, with her Cassandra Goad Temple of Heaven earrings, which she wore last week at the Pre-Tour Reception. The Duke wore a suit.For the afternoons engagement, the Duchess wore a light, flowey dress by Indian designer Anita Dongre, who is a Mumbai Native. She accessorized with new Indian-Inspired earrings by Monsoon. The Duke was dressed in a white dress shirt with navy chinos. The Duchess wore a Sapphire blue evening gown by Jenny Packham, with the beading done in India. She also wore a pair of lapis and diamond earrings from Amrapali Jewels, an Indian designer. The Duke wore Black Tie.
I think it was a very successful first day, TRH looked fresh and full of energy, despite their 9 hour flight. They have a gruelling schedule ahead of them, but today showed them more than capable to handle it with grace and charm.