Day 3 of the Royal Tour of India and Bhutan started in Delhi and moved on to Kaziranga, in East India. It was a busy day, which included an engagement with railway children, lunch with the Prime Minister of India, as well as a campsite dance for the celebration of Bohag Bihu, the Assamese New Year.
The first engagement of the day started in Delhi, when the Duke & Duchess visited a children’s centre, operated by the charity Salaam Baalak for street children. The trust serves as a temporary shelter for the many children who arrive daily into Delhi from rural areas at the nearby railway station. The charity has six homes, 21 contact centres and three Childline centres near stations, bus stands and railway stations across Delhi. The trust serves to protect the vulnerable young children, who are often exploited and abused. TRH heard stories about the difficulties an danger of life on the streets of Delhi. Upon arrival, the Duke and Duchess crouched down and played Carrom, a traditional board game, with a group of boys. Then, the couple made their way to Boys shelter near Delhi station. They were greeted in traditional style by flower garlands and red tika spots.
The Duke and Duchess moved to the roof, where they chatted to the boys supervised their artwork. The Duchess was asked by Shansad Abdul, a 12 year old boy, to draw a picture of he house. She drew a charmingly childish drawing, which bore a strong resemblance to Amner Hall, the royal residence in Norfolk. Abdul said afterwards: ” I liked doing it with her very much and I learnt how to draw trees and greenery.” The charities founder, Praveen Nair, who established the trust using money from her daughter’s film Salaam Bombay, said: “It’s really very heartening to see well-to-do people are aware of the problems and they come and see it for themselves. It’s very fulfilling for me’ the staff and the kids to come and see us. It’s very good for the children as it makes them feel important and goes a long way to building their self-confidence. It was a revelation to see that they were like anyone else, like you or I. They didn’t say ‘oh it’s dirty’ or refuse to shake people’s hands. That is the pre-conceived opinion for all well-to-do people and Britishers.”
TRH returned to the British High Commissioner’s residence, where they met with representatives of two more NGOs. They also met staff and children from the embassy compound. The Duke & Duchess had lunch with Prime Minister Modi of India, at Hyderabad House in Delhi. The Duke discussed discussed “the pressures facing steel manufacturers in the UK and India” with the PM. This comes after much speculation that the Duke will discuss Indian firm Tata’s decision to pullout of the British steel industry, which will result in the loss of 40,000 British jobs.
TRH took a flight from Delhi to Assam, a state in East India. They will spend two days at Kaziranga National Park to highlight rural and conservation issues. They arrived at the airport, and were received by a vibrant and traditional welcome, which included a presentation of gifs. In the evening, TRH join villagers in Kaziranga around the campfire to celebrate the Assamese new year,Bohag Bihu festival. The were treated to a performance where women danced in barefoot, whirling and singing in their colourful saris as a band of drummers played, around the fire. One of the locals said: “This event means we are happy that the harvest is over. We welcome the new year and we pray to the Lord that the year goes well.” When they met the musicians afterwards the Duke tried his hand at playing the gogona, an instrument like a Jew’s harp made out of bamboo. The couple were taken be a small three year-old boy, who was dancing in front of them. TRH are staying at Diphlu Lodge, and will attend a safari in Kaziranga National Park in the morning.
For the morning engagements, the Duchess was wearing a maxi dress by high street label Glamorous, and earrings previously worn on Day 1, in Mumbai. The Duke wore a light blue button up shirt, with khaki chinos. For the Lunch and Welcome Ceremony, the Duchess wore a green lace dress by Temperley London, with new earrings by Kiki McDonough, made especially for the birth of Princess Charlotte last May. The Duke wore a dark navy suit.The Duchess wore a long dress by Anna Sui, and earrings that have been in her collection since at least 2006. The Duke wore a white shirt with grey khakis.
It was a long and busy day for the Duke and Duchess. They have traveled across India in the past three days, attending events from morning to evening. I expect the next two days to be fairly low-key, so that TRH can relax until they reach Bhutan.