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Prince William and Kate Middleton's visit to the village was seen as “a source of pride” to the locals

By Erin Hill and Simon Perry
October 16, 2019 10:14 AM
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Kate Middleton and Prince William had an emotional meeting with survivors of mass flooding caused by climate change in Pakistan.

On the third day of their royal tour on Wednesday, the couple traveled north to the Chitral district to witness a retreating glacier.

William and Kate met with locals whose community was devastated during flooding four years ago. In 2015, the whole village of Bumburet was swept away — although miraculously no one was killed. However, the boulders and flood waters damaged homes, destroyed crops and killed animals.

“I left in 2015 just before the flood and when I came back from university in Islamabad I couldn’t believe it was the same village,” said Arab Gul, 28, a local archaeologist. “Everything had disappeared: lands, houses, everything was washed away.”

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
Kate Middleton and Prince William
| Credit: Neil Hall/PA Images

During their visit, they also spoke with a young local woman named Diana who was named after William’s late mother Princess Diana soon after she visited the area in 1991.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
Kate Middleton and Prince William
| Credit: Neil Hall/PA Images
Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
Prince William and Kate Middleton
| Credit: Neil Hall/PA Images via Getty Images

“Princess Diana was visiting at around the time she was born, which is why she got named Diana,” a translator said. “And now her son is now [named] William.

“Her grandmother went to meet Princess Diana in Chitral, her mom was unable to travel because she was expecting her.”

The young woman is part of an emergency response team of volunteers — now funded by U.K. aid — which prevented loss of life after the floods in 2015.

During the discussion, William about their experiences during the 2015 flood.

“Was it quite scary? What kind of time of day did it happen?” William said. “Was it like a big roar in the valley?”

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
Kate Middleton and Prince William
| Credit: Neil Hall/PA Images

Pacha Bibi, 31, a local mom of four, said: “We had no meals to eat, no electricity. We were faced with many difficulties. We were moved to safe areas, but we were still afraid again that it would happen. I feel that we are still not safe in this area.”

Shahi Gul, 40, a mom of six, added: “During the flood in 2015, beautiful greenery, lands, everything was washed away. All the food, everything, was washed away, our whole culture. But we had no money to give good education to our children. Still now we are not financially strong.”

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
Credit: Neil Hall/PA Images

The couple also watched a demonstration by a local search and rescue team on how they transport casualties across a river. One of the locals was wrapped up in bandages for the exercise. Afterwards, William thanked the team for their efforts.

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William and Kate’s visit to the village was seen as “a source of pride” to the locals.

“They’re glad that people are learning more about this. It’s a source of pride. They can’t forget this day,” the translator said.