Prince William and Kate to Follow in Princess Diana's Footsteps with Taj Mahal Visit
The visit comes 24 years after the late Princess Diana made the same trip, which signaled her estrangement from Prince Charles
The visit comes 24 years after Princess Diana made the same trip, which signaled her estrangement from husband Prince Charles. It was there in 1992 that the late princess posed for one of her most iconic photos, which depicted a lonely image of the beloved royal.
Just months after the photo was taken, Diana and Charles announced their separation.
William and Kate’s day at the historic landmark will come after a tour of the country, and immediately follow a visit to the neighboring kingdom of Bhutan, where they will meet new parents King Jigme and Queen Jetsun, who have been dubbed the “William and Kate of the Himalayas.”
The royal couple begins their tour – their first visit to India – in Mumbai on April 10 and then it’s on to New Delhi and Kaziranga before they make their way to Thimphu in Bhutan for two days. They will then head to the UNESCO heritage site of the Taj Mahal on April 16.
During their visit, William, 33, and Kate, 34, will see a variety of aspects of contemporary Indian life, focusing on young people, sport, entrepreneurship, Indian efforts to relieve urban poverty, the creative arts and rural life, their office said.
“[They] are very much looking forward to their tours of India and Bhutan. Their visit to India will be an introduction to a country that they plan to build an enduring relationship with,” a spokesman said in a statement.
“They will pay tribute to India’s proud history, but also are keen to understand the hopes and aspirations of young Indian people and the major role they will play in shaping the 21st century.”
Unlike their three-week tour through New Zealand and Australia in 2014 – when they brought along then 9-month-old Prince George – William and Kate will not have the young royal or sister Princess Charlotte with them.
India is a special country for the royals to visit. “There’s been an incredible history of brilliant, glittering royal tours there, starting with the Queen’s grandfather George V,” longtime royal biographer Robert Lacey tells PEOPLE. “Now the world has changed and India is a key tiger economy for Britain to be involved with. So many people in Britain are proud of their Indian heritage – and Indian food is about the most popular food in Britain!”
He adds, “Despite a general record of success, the royal trip that we all remember is that ill-starred visit of Diana to the Taj Mahal. And here we have a happy royal couple with a message of unity and family values.”
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As the palace says, it is also just before Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday and the couple is expected to “pay tribute to Her Majesty’s huge contribution to diplomacy in Britain and the Commonwealth,” their office adds.
“It shows the way William is maintaining his grandmother’s priority with the Commonwealth with a modern twist,” Lacey adds. “He had his lessons at how to be king at his grandmother’s knee and the Commonwealth would have been something she spoke about. And India has always been a jewel in that.”
While in Bhutan, the couple will build on the relationship between the two royal families and learn more about the heritage and culture of the stunning mountain kingdom and its people.