Duke and Duchess of Cambridge landed in Mumbai this morning to begin their seven-day tour of India and Bhutan
Highlights of royal tour will see William and Kate visit the Taj Mahal – famously visited by Diana, Princess of Wales
Couple will also pay tribute to 31 staff and guests who died in 2008 Mumbai terror attacks at Taj Mahal Palace hotel
Tonight William and Kate will attend glittery Bollywood gala dinner with singers, dancers and even nod to fashion
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were given an enthusiast welcome this morning as they arrived in Mumbai for their first royal tour as a couple for almost two years.
They landed 20 minutes ahead of schedule on a British Airways flight from London with part of the 11-strong entourage that will accompany them on their seven-day trip to India and Bhutan plus a large security detail.
There was no official photocall at the airport and the couple headed straight off in a convoy to the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, where their first official engagement of the visit took place. William and Kate laid a wreath at a memorial to the hotel’s victims of the 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai.
Warm welcome: Kate is expected to showcase a number of Indian designers with her choice of outfits during the couple’s tour, but she played it safe with one of her favourite fashion houses for the country’s first sight of her. Locals gave the couple an enthusiastic welcome
The Duchess blended Indian colour with British couture as she chose an Alexander McQueen dress accompanied with a £165 clutch bag by Russell and Bromley and £1,495 earrings by Temple of Heaven for her arrival at the hotel.
She also wore a pair of new nude Gianvito Rossi courts, with a pointed toe, costing £445.
Kate is expected to showcase a number of Indian designers with her choice of outfits during the couple’s tour, but she played it safe with one of her favourite fashion houses for the country’s first sight of her.
Her red, paisley-themed outfit with a shirt split at the front over a black underskirt, borrowed heavily from Asian tradition, while the Duke opted for a navy blue suit.
She and William were given garlands of fragrant frangipani and rose to wear around their necks – and neither looked remotely tired by the long flight.
Shortly afterwards their staff, including her PA and unofficial stylist, Natasha Archer, arrived, laden with luggage and clothes bags.
Highlights of the tour will see William and Kate visit the Taj Mahal – famously visited by Diana, Princess of Wales – where the royal couple hope to create ‘new memories’. Tonight they will also attend a glittery Bollywood gala dinner – with singers, dancers and even a nod to fashion – at The Taj Palace to raise money for the charities and children they are due to meet today.
This morning the royal couple were given a warm welcome by locals standing across the street as they arrived at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel. There they laid a wreath at a memorial to the hotel’s victims of the 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai.
A total of 31 staff and guests were killed in the assault, as well as the hotel’s labrador guard dog, Lucy. Next to a waterfall in an atrium of the hotel all 32 names are inscribed on a wall, under the words: ‘For now and forever you will inspire us.’
ROYAL COUPLE TURN DOWN THE £9,500-A-NIGHT GRAND PRESIDENTIAL SUITE AT THE TAJ MAHAL PALACE HOTEL
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have turned down the chance to stay in the Taj Mahal Palace hotel’s grand presidential suite – a room reserved for visiting royalty, world leaders or members of the Tata family.
Their decision to avoid the £9,500-a-night, 15-room suite prompted speculation the Royal couple were put off by its unfortunate name – the Tata suite.
After a year of awkward PR disasters, they could hardly afford to have their names linked so closely to a family which is preparing to sell off its entire UK steel operation at the potential cost of thousands of British jobs.
Nor did they feel comfortable staying in the most luxurious suite in the Tata-owned hotel – even though it was good enough for American President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.
So instead, the Duke and Duchess – who are travelling without their two young children – are practically slumming it by opting for a ‘normal’ £700-a-night suite at the hotel, where even the most basic of accommodation is over and above most people’s wildest dreams.
What William and Kate are missing
The grand presidential collection of 15 rooms is described by the hotel as an ‘expanse fit for kings and heads of state’. The 5,000 sq ft apartment is a treasure trove of priceless art, rugs, antique furniture and historic objets d’art.
It costs £9,500 a night, though it is unlikely the Royal couple would have been handed a bill. Barack and Michelle Obama stayed there in 2010.
The Duke and Duchess placed a wreath of white lilies between 32 burning candles, with the message: ‘In memory of those who lost their lives and those injured in the senseless atrocities at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. Willam, Catherine.’
The royal couple are staying at the Taj as a show of support for the city in the wake of the attacks, which remain fresh in the memory eight years on.
At the memorial they were introduced to hotel chef Raghu Deora, 41, who was shot in the stomach and in the leg as he helped guests to safety.
The Duke asked him about what happened on the day, while the Duchess said: ‘It must have been a surreal time.’
Mr Deora said: ‘The Duke asked me what happened to me and I explained how I was shot. He asked me how long I took to recover, and I said six months, with the last operation two years ago.’
The Duchess asked him about his cooking, and if he had a speciality, to which he replied that he specialised in local dishes.
Mr Deora also cooked the couple’s lunch, which included a starter of vegetable kebabs and main courses including lentil curry with rice, ricotta cheese and okra.
He said: ‘It is all vegetarian because I was told that was what they preferred.’
Travellers in India often avoid eating meat to minimise the risk of food poisoning.
The couple were also introduced to Sunil Kudiyadi, the hotel’s security manager, who called the police and security services to the scene and helped save guests’ lives.
The Duke told him: ‘You’re very brave, you saved a lot of lives. Well done.’
The couple are just the latest royal guests at the hotel: King George V and Queen Mary stayed in 1905 and 1911 (the hotel’s famous gateway was built specially for their visit) and the Prince of Wales stayed at the hotel in 2013.
In November President Barack Obama became the first foreign head of state to stay at the Taj after the attacks, when he described the hotel as ‘the symbol of the strength and the resilience of the Indian people’.
Source: DAILYMAIL MAILONLINE