Kate Middleton and Prince William celebrated with games, music and traditional Pakistani cakes
Pass the cake!
The royal couple headed to the SOS Children’s Village, a charity in Lahore that provides a home and family structure to over 150 boys and girls, to celebrate the birthdays of three children — Iman, 12, Ibrahim, 6, and Daniyal, 8 — with games, music and traditional Pakistani cakes. And of course, no birthday is complete without singing “Happy Birthday.”
Kate wore a traditional cream shalwar kameez by Gul Ahmed and shawl by Maheem Khan.
Established in 1977, the organization started out with 15 family homes, to which another four have since been added, and promotes the development of children into happy, confident and resilient adults — a key cause of Kate’s royal work.
The couple began by sitting in on a musical storytelling session and were given brightly-colored finger puppets to play along with.
“It’s very nice to be here,” said the prince. “My name is William… I am called William. How old are you?”
After asking each of the children’s ages, the royal dad said, “How old do you think I am?”
“Twenty-one,” offered the child.
“I’ll take 21, that’s good!” William said with a laugh. “I am a little bit older than that. Can you guess?” He proudly added, “I have my own children. A little boy called Louis and then there is Charlotte and then George, who is 6. He’s almost as old as you.”
The couple then went into a private meeting with seven children who live in one of the boarding houses and their “house mother.”
Kate also gave her first speech of the tour, which included a Urdu greeting!
“Assalam O Alaikum,” she said. “Iman, Ibrahim aur Daniyal apni salgirah pur bulanay ka bohat shukria” (Translation: “Hello. Peace be upon you. Iman, Ibrahim and Daniyal, thank you for inviting us to your birthday celebration.”)
“We have been really moved and touched by what we have seen, and by the happy home you have made,” Kate said. “I’m aware that many of you have experienced extremely difficult times in your lives. But it is inspiring to see how you have used your strength and positivity to help transform the lives of so many young children here.”
She continued, “Being here in Pakistan this week, William and I have seen on several occasions how family is at the heart of your culture. Parents, children, aunts, uncles, grandparents all play important roles — you have reminded us exactly what family means. You have shown us too that it is not simply a term that describes the relationship between blood relatives.
“Instead it describes those special bonds we share with those who make us feel safe and supported. It is the quality of those relationships that matters.
“Earlier this year I talked about the fact that it takes a village to raise a child. The village we have seen here today is the best representation of that ideal that I could have possibly imagined.
“Together as a village you are transforming children’s lives and providing them with strong foundations to support all their families. You have created a home, where children are given the love, protection, and support that will enable them to have a fairer chance in life.
“Here, women who were once vulnerable, now play the most vital of roles as mothers and it is most heartening to see that you are not doing this alone.”
Iman, who has been at the Village for three years, told reporters, “It’s very nice to meet the Prince and Princess. I am so happy and thankful to have them to celebrate my birthday.”
She added of Kate’s language skills, “Her Urdu was very good.”
Umma Kashmir, 39, was left at the village at three months old and never knew her parents.
“I was here for 25 years and am now married with three children and I have done my PHD and lecture at university in management sciences,” she said proudly.
“I never saw my parents and I never asked who they were. This was my family, they loved and cared for me. I didn’t feel the need to find out. I was really delighted to be invited and to meet them (Kate and William). They seemed very impressed by what they saw here. It was an honor.”
Kate and William continued the fun at their next stop, when they visited the National Cricket Academy to learn about the country’s national sport. The royal parents even played in a game with children who are part of the British Council’s DOSTI program (dosti means “friendship” in Urdu) to promote social skills and self-esteem.
The couple’s visit to the bustling city of Lahore, known widely across Pakistan as the country’s city of culture, will showcase the best of Pakistani culture, from its unique architecture, its commitment to charity and of course, its love of cricket.
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The couple’s visit to Pakistan has been called Kate and William’s “most complex tour” to date, “given the logistical and security considerations,” said their spokesman. Their outings have covered issues including education for girls and climate change, urging Britain and Pakistan to continue to work together.
“It will largely focus on showcasing Pakistan as it is today — a dynamic, aspirational and forward-looking nation,” added the palace. “From the modern leafy capital Islamabad, to the vibrant city of Lahore, the mountainous countryside in the North, and the rugged border regions to the West, the visit will span over 1000 kilometers [620 miles], and will take in Pakistan’s rich culture, its diverse communities and its beautiful landscapes.”
William and Kate will conclude their five-day tour of Pakistan on Friday.