It was a great day of varied engagements in Pakistan's largest city Lahore for the penultimate day of the Cambridge's tour.
Before the tour, I heard a rumour William and Kate planned to visit SOS Children's Villages - I was delighted to see that was the case today. SOS is the largest independent, non-profit development organisation operating all over the world. The villages provide alternative families to children without proper parental care. Typically, children of all ages live together in a house with a 'Mother' who is responsible for meeting the children's physical needs. These women are often single or widows, and able to fully commit themselves to the responsibilities included. The ethos of SOS is all about fostering a sense of belonging and family which is why several children are raised together and brought up as siblings. I first heard about their work some time ago and was really struck, in particular, by the women essentially dedicating their lives to raising children from difficult backgrounds and ensuring they get a childhood filled with love, stability and safety.
Headquartered in Austria, the first SOS Village was founded by child welfare officer Hermann Gmeiner in Tyrol, Austria, in 1949. During the course of his work, Gmeiner saw how children orphaned as a result of World War II suffered. Hermann passed away in 1986 with the knowledge his vision had grown to help children all over the world. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize several times for his groundbreaking efforts.
I'm sure Hermann could never have imagined SOS would be active in 136 countries. In 2017 alone, over 85,000 children and youths were raised in 572 SOS Children's Villages and over 700 SOS Youth Facilities. Another 3.8 million children and adults received services from their other programs. The structure in Lahore is home to over 150 young girls and boys.
The royal visit coincided with a very special birthday party for Iman, Ibrahim and Daniyal. Celebrations included cake, music and a host of activities. Iman told Simon Perry: "It was very nice to meet the Prince and Princess. I am so happy and thankful to have them to celebrate my birthday."
During a speech, Kate praised the "vital role of mothers" and shared a few words in Urdu. "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."
'“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.”)'
More on Kate's speech from The Telegraph:
The Duchess said: '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.'
During story time with a group of children, William asked a young boy how old he thought he was. He was quite impressed when he responded "21". The Telegraph reports the Prince replied: "I am a little bit older than that. I have my own children. A little boy called Louis and then there is Charlotte and then George, who is six. He’s almost as old as you." I imagine they are both missing the children quite a lot now, and greatly looking forward to seeing them tomorrow. After reading Kate said "that's quite a sad story". This is such a sweet video...
From there, it was time to get into the spirit of Pakistan's most popular sport...cricket!
At the National Cricket Academy, Kate told players she's a fan of the game, but particularly loves tennis and swimming.
William revealed he hasn't played since his school years, but was looking forward to testing his skills again.
Kate met children benefiting from a local sports programme.
They were given bats for George, Charlotte and Louis and were told "You might apologise to Prince Louis, the bat is bigger than he is".
More from The Telegraph:
'The Duke of Cambridge took to the crease at Pakistan's national cricket academy and impressed his hosts by hitting a six.
The notoriously competitive Royal couple both joined in a match with budding players during a full day in city of Lahore, visiting the National Cricket Academy. While the Duke scored big, the Duchess was caught out twice.
Waqar Younis, former captain of the Pakistan cricket team, was umpiring and said: "I'm glad that they came - it was a great encouragement for these young kids. On their skills, he joked: "They probably need some homework! William told me he has played a lot of tennis - and that he really only played cricket when he was younger. But he said he can work on it."
For her first look of the day, the Duchess wore a Shalwar Kameez by Pakistani textile company Gul Ahmed and a matching shawl by Maheen Khan.
Sarah Daud Junjua revealed it's a custom look based on a white, embroidered, box-style shirt and matching trousers. It retails for roughly £55.
You'll notice Jasmine - the national flower of Pakistan - embroidered on the tunic.
With thanks to Kate's Closet and Kate Middleton Style, it appears Kate wore a pair of J Crew Colette D'Orsay pumps. The shoes could also be the almost identical Lucie style, however from looking at photos the Colette appear right to me.
For the cricket, Kate took inspiration from Princess Charlotte, sporting a pair of Hampton Canvas Shoes from Trotters. We've seen Charlotte in the children's version of the shoes a couple of times.
Following a change of attire, William and Kate visited Badshahi Mosque.
Located west of Lahore Fort along the outskirts of the Walled City, the mosque is widely considered one of Lahore's definitive landmarks.
Built by Emperor Aurangzeb in 1671, it is the largest and the last of the grand imperial mosques built by the Mughals.
It's an outstanding, historic piece of architecture.
It is renowned for the carved marble and elaborate plasterwork that are used throughout the interior.
The Mosque has a long tradition of royal visitors. Over the decades, the Queen, Diana, Charles and Camilla have viewed it during tours.
William and Kate toured the courtyard before meeting faith leaders inside to discuss encouraging unity within their communities. They sat down and listened to a prayer from the Holy Quran.
More from the Mail Online:
'William is understood to have asked a question of the group about how interfaith issues are promoted amongst young people.
Dr Ayesha Leghari said afterwards that the couple had been 'interested and empathetic listeners', saying: 'You have people who are interested listeners and people who are also empathetic and they were very empathetic. We were really pleased. They were very responsive and very charming.'
The first to speak was Dr Leghari, a Sunni Muslim scholar, explaining the verse. 'I was telling then how it is compulsory for us to respect other religions. God sent a messenger to every part of the globe and peace is to be attained through the process of growth. When we don't give importance to negative emotions like jealousy, violence and greed and we move towards a higher level of being where we are more loving and compassionate. It is part of our belief to respect other religions.' She said: 'They were interested in finding out about how the youth thought about interfaith interactions.''
Simon Perry reports before they departed, Honorary Consul, UK Fakir Aijaz Uddin told the couple "If there's one word to describe your visit it is "joy." You have radiated joy wherever you have been". William replied, "We are very happy people".
William and Kate's final port of call saw them retrace Diana's footsteps at the Shaukat Khanum cancer hospital.
Earlier this week, we chatted about Diana's visits to the country, where she spent time with close friend Jemima Goldsmith, the former wife of Prime Minister Imran Khan. In the 1990s, Mr Khan was determined to build the hospital after his mother succumbed to cancer. During her illness, he witnessed the plight of cancer patients in Pakistan and knew a purpose built centre was absolutely vital. Diana supported the effort both in the country and back in the UK. Today it is Pakistan's largest tertiary care cancer hospital.
Kensington Palace shared the following via Instagram: "In 1996 and 1997 Diana, Princess of Wales visited the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, a state-of-the-art cancer facility located in the centre of Lahore."
William and Kate spent time with several patients and their families. They played a fish hooking game with Muhammad Samir, who has Hodgkins Lymphoma.
The best was saved until last when the tiara moment we've all been waiting for happened. William and Kate joined seven-year-old Wafia Rehmani for a tea party. Wafia has a kidney tumour and told the couple she wants to be a doctor when she grows up.
The little girl gave Kate a tiara matching her own. I can only imagine what it meant to Wafia to have a real life princess there. I remember some years ago Princess Madeleine of Sweden invited a group of children to the Palace for a special event, and she was dressed in a flowing gown and sparkling tiara. The children loved it, and I've always thought it would be great to see something similar from Kate. This may beat any Lovers Knot or Lotus Flower Tiara appearance for me :)
“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.'
The Duchess wore an elegant bespoke turquoise and gold Shalwar Kameez and matching headscarf by Maheen Khan. Kate's chosen several looks by the talented designer, known as Pakistan's first couturier.
The Duchess was barefoot as she was visiting the mosque, she wore red nail polish on her toes.
Kate accessorised with her Catherine Zoraida Fern Hoop earrings.
Afterwards, William and Kate boarded the RAF Voyager with their staff and the press pack to return to Islamabad. Due to weather conditions, a change of plan was necessary. Simon Perry reports:
'After a busy day of engagements in Lahore, the royal couple were traveling back to Islamabad on a jet when a terrifying electrical storm hit. At one point, lightning could be seen over the right wing as the plane bumped and rolled side to side over stormy Islamabad.
Despite the best efforts of the pilot to land the RAF Voyager at two different airports, the plane had to turn back to Lahore. The flight was meant to take about 25 minutes, but the plane was in the air for two hours.
After landing, experienced pilot Prince William reassured members of the media at the back of the plane — and joked that he was the one doing the flying. He suggested it was either going to be a night out in Lahore, or they would return to the capital for the evening.'
Reporters and photographers on board said "That was the most nervous I've ever felt in a plane" and "I hate flying". Thankfully, they were able to safely return to Lahore.