The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spent time in the children’s ward of the hospital, where they met and chatted with patients and their families

By Simon Perry
October 17, 2019 11:20 AM

Prince William retraced some of the steps of his late mother Princess Diana when he and wife Kate Middleton visited a cancer hospital in Pakistan on Thursday.

The couple headed to the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital in Lahore, which Diana visited in the last years of her life.

Founded by former cricketer Imran Khan in memory of his mother, the hospital was a focus for Diana. She made a trip in 1996 and then another just three months before she died in 1997. William and Kate’s visit comes two days after the couple met Prime Minister Imran Khan, who shared memories of Diana with the couple.

During their outing on Thursday, William and Kate visited the children’s ward to spend time with patients undergoing treatment at the hospital, and spoke to families.

Prince William and Kate Middleton visit Wafia Rehmani at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre in Lahore, Pakistan on Oct. 17, 2019.
| Credit: Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA Wire

Wafia Rehmani, 7, wore matching toy tiaras with Kate as she hosted a tea party on her bed. Wafia, who is from over the border in Afghanistan, has a kidney tumor. She wants to be a doctor and also showed the royal couple her toy medical set.

Prince William with Wafia Rehmani
| Credit: Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA Wire

“Her father calls her ‘princess,’ and she likes to wear a crown. Now she is looking forward to meeting a real princess,” her brother, Hedyatullah Rehmani, said as they waited for the couple to arrive at the children’s chemotherapy ward.

Kate Middleton and Prince William with Wafia Remahni.
| Credit: Arthur Edwards/PA Images

The royal parents also played with 5-year-old Muhammad Samir in the chemotherapy ward of the hospital. Samir is being treated for Hodgkins Lymphoma. William played with the little boy’s fishing game as the pair competed to hook fish.

Kate and William visit Muhammed Sameer at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre in Lahore, Pakistan on Oct. 17, 2019.
| Credit: Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA Wire

When the couple arrived at his bedside they were told the boy, from the Attock district in Pakistan, wants to join the army. William picked up Muhammed’s toy planes and a toy tank.

William with Muhammed Samir.
| Credit: Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA Wire

“Do you want to be a soldier?” asked the royal dad.

When the boy appeared curious about the press photographers, William said: “He’s looking at all the cameras. That’s Arthur there,” he said pointing to veteran royal photographer Arthur Edwards.

Princess Diana at the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital in 1997
| Credit: Chip HIRES/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Princess Diana cradles sick children during a visit to the hospital in 1996
| Credit: Anwar Hussein/Getty
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When Princess Diana visited the children’s cancer hospital, she was shown around by Dr. Aasim Yusuf. He also toured the cancer unit with William and Kate.

Recalling Princess Diana’s visits, Yusuf said: “We were all struck by how friendly she was. How she was able to put everyone at ease. We were all very nervous about what we should say and what she would ask and how we should address her. The minute she came into the room, she lit up the room obviously and also she was just so friendly and down to earth. You could tell that she was genuinely interested in the people she was meeting.”

William and Kate talk with cancer patient Fariha Jahanzeb, during a visit to Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre in Lahore, Pakistan on Oct. 17, 2019.
| Credit: Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA Wire

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Now showing her son around made him feel “a lot older”, Yusuf joked. “It’s a great honor and a privilege for us to be welcoming Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge today. It’s a special honor that they have chosen to come and see our hospital again.”

While the visits Diana made were to help Khan with ongoing fundraising for the cancer clinic, she also had other motives for visiting Pakistan in the last two years of her life. The princess was in love with Pakistani heart surgeon Dr. Hasnat Khan, who she had met in London and was secretly dating until the summer of 1997.

“Diana went to Pakistan to help raise funds for Imran’s hospital, but both times she also went to meet his family secretly to discuss the possibility of marriage to Hasnat,” Khan’s ex-wife Jemima Goldsmith told Vanity Fair in 2013.