LONDON: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have said they are excited to visit Pakistan to meet its people and to witness and experience its beautiful culture, although the Duke of Cambridge is wary of spicy food, the Duchess likes spicy food.
Prince William and Kate Middleton were speaking to around 70 selected Pakistanis at the Aga Khan Centre at an exclusive reception hosted for them by His Highness The Aga Khan in association with Pakistan High Commission. The royal couple visited the centre for two hours ahead of their Royal Highnesses’ official visit to Pakistan, which will take place between Monday 14th and Friday 18th October.
Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK Nafees Zakaria and the Aga Khan welcomed the royal couple when they arrived for the visit of the centre. While the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, both 37, mingled with the guests, a Pakistani musician played tabla in the background. The couple were seen going round to the guests and asked them questions about Pakistan and the work they did.
The Aga Khan, 82, told the guests he was hosting the Royal Couple at the centre to showcase them the contribution Pakistanis are making to the cultural diversity of Britain. Speaking briefly to this correspondent, Prince William said he looked forward to visiting Pakistan as he has heard so many wonderful things about Pakistan.
The food for the guests was cooked by Saliha Mahmood Ahmed, the MasterCheff 2017 winner. She told Geo News that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge asked her about Pakistani food and sought tips on what to eat.
Saliha said, “They asked me about Pakistani culture, they wanted to know about Pakistani food. They are much excited to visit Pakistan. I recommended that they should eat traditional food of Pakistan. I suggested them not to worry about putting on fats, you can exercise later on and burn the fats!”.
Saliha said the Duchess likes spicy food and the Duke is wary of it but both looked forward to enjoying the local cuisine. Writer and broadcaster Sarfraz Manzoor quoted the Duke as saying that he likes medium spice but “I don’t think it exists in Pakistan”.
Producer and composer of Naughty Boy (Shahed Khan) said the royal couple asked him how bansri and tabla are played and that they looked forward to enjoying Pakistani music during their visit.
Lord Zameer Choudrey said he welcomed the Royal couple. Banker Arif M Ali said the couple asked him how he helped Pakistan. “They were eager to know more about my work for Pakistan and wanted to know in what way I helped Pakistan’s economy.”
Mahmood H Ahmed of Agha Khan Foundation said that the event was organised to showcase modern Pakistani culture and the royal couple were able to meet a range of people from Pakistan, including community leaders, those involved in British and Pakistani business, and key figures within the diaspora community, including musicians, chefs and artists.
He said the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) has been working in Pakistan for over a century to improve the quality of life, promote pluralism, and enhance civil society.
High Commissioner Nafees Zakari said, “The Royal couple is much excited to visit Pakistan. I told them that the whole Pakistan awaits them with excitement. I think this will be a great visit.
This visit will boost relations between the two countries and will project the real soft image of Pakistan before the world. The visit will draw attention of many people towards Pakistan.”
Zakaria said the people of Pakistan still cherish and fondly recall” the visits by the Queen and described the upcoming trip as a “reflection of the importance the United Kingdom attaches to its relations with Pakistan. The two countries enjoy historical links which both sides wish to strengthen further”.
The prominent Pakistanis who attended the reception included artist Mehtab Hussain, Shahed Karim, Shaista Gohar, Arif Rangoonwala, Adil Ray, Shazia Mirza, Sarfraz Manzoor and many others.