London – The Duchess of Cambridge was quick-change Kate on Tuesday as she dazzled in three different outfits on the royal tour of Pakistan.
First she looked stylish in blue on a visit to a school and then elegant in green and white during a lunch with prime minister Imran Khan.
Finally Kate, 37, sparkled in a bottle-green evening gown as she and Prince William arrived at a reception in the capital, Islamabad, in a colourful motorised rickshaw.
For the soiree, the prince shunned his sensible suits and embraced local culture in a green sherwani – a formal knee-length jacket that falls to the knees – with matching trousers. William had teased journalists earlier in the week that he might have "something special on the fashion front"up his sleeve for the couple’s five-day tour… and did not disappoint.
The second day of the trip, which is to promote social, economic and cultural ties between Britain and Pakistan, had begun with a visit to the Islamabad Model College for Girls to highlight the importance of education for girls and young women in the country. Kate wore a royal blue classic kurta – or long shirt – trousers and scarf by local designer Maheen Khan, and nude sandals with block heel, ankle strap and pointed toe that cost £23.99 (about R450) on the high street and were even on sale at £10.
As they sat in a classroom, William shared a touching exchange about his late mother with a group of schoolgirls. Told by the teenagers that they were "big fans" of Diana, Princess of Wales, he smiled slightly bashfully, touched his heart and said: "You were, really? Oh that’s very sweet of you. I was a big fan of my mother too! She came here three times. I was very small. This is my first time and it is very nice to be here and meet you all."
The prince was asked what he had wanted to do when he was younger after Aima, 14, told him that she was determined to be a brain surgeon.
He said: "Actually I changed a lot as I got older but I always wanted to learn to fly… I love flying, I feel very free. I like learning a skill. I can relate to the science of what you do."
Afterwards, William was reunited with old family friend Imran Khan and reminded him how the former international cricketer had told him and his late mother that he wanted to be Pakistan’s prime minister.
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Over lunch, the prince, 37, recalled he had been taken by Diana in 1996 to see Khan and his then wife, Jemima Goldsmith, in London, and that everyone had laughed when the sports star revealed his ambition.
Khan, 67, who was finally elected PM last year, suggested it had been as hard a slog as his earlier career as a Test cricketer. William replied: "Sure. It’s not so easy."
His wife Kate, now in white trousers by Maheen Khan, an emerald green tunic by Catherine Walker, a navy patterned Satrangi scarf and earrings by the Pakistani firm Zeen, interjected: "You stuck with it."
On Tuesday night the couple attended a reception hosted by British High Commissioner Thomas Drew at the National Monument, with Kate in a dark green evening dress and scarf by Jenny Packham, plus £290 (R5 400) gold Onitaa earrings from Pakistan.
William gave his first speech of the tour, urging Britain and Pakistan to work to meet the challenges they face together over issues such as climate change and access to education. "The challenges ahead are great. But we cannot be daunted," he said. "Instead we should draw strength from our shared bonds."
The duke also spoke a few words of Urdu, saying "bahut shukriya" – "a big thank you" – and adding that he and his wife had been honoured by the hospitality of their hosts.
"For a country so young, Pakistan has endured many hardships, with countless lives lost to terror and hatred. Tonight I want to pay tribute to all those who have endured such sacrifice and helped to build the country that we see today."