British royals continue tour of Pakistan with a trip to the mountainous north to witness effects of climate change
Prince William and his wife Kate flew near the Afghan border to visit a remote Hindu Kush glacier on Wednesday, after a morning spent trying on feathered traditional caps and luxurious shawls in Pakistan’s mountainous north.
The British royals traveled by helicopter to a glacier in Broghil Valley National Park to see the effects of climate change in one of the most glaciated areas of the world. Residents of the region have been sounding the alarm over its melting glaciers, which caused devastating floods in 2015 that left thousands of families camping in the open just as another cold winter approached.
The Duke of Cambridge called the glacial melt an “impending catastrophe” in a speech delivered at a glittering reception in Islamabad late Tuesday.
The couple met with environmental experts to discuss the melting before going on to spend their afternoon with the Kalash—an ancient, polytheistic tribe who celebrate their gods with music and dance.
The verdant, plunging valleys of the northern Chitral district have long attracted tourists for their natural beauty and their brush with legend as the home of the Kalash, who claim ancestry from Alexander the Great. Activists have campaigned to preserve the traditions of the diminishing tribe, now estimated to number around only 3,000 people, making them Pakistan’s smallest religious minority.
Earlier, during a refueling stop on the way to the glacier, the Duke and Duchess tried on a Chitrali cap given a touch of luxury with a peacock feather, which local media said was a gift to them from residents. The flat, woolen hats, also known as “pakols,” are popular in northern Pakistan and throughout Afghanistan, though feather decorations are usually reserved for special occasions.
They also tried on chapans, long bulky embroidered coats popular in Central Asia; as well as a lush woolen shawl for Kate.
Kensington Palace has called the five-day trip, which ends Friday, their “most complex” tour to date.
The couple had lunch on Tuesday with Prime Minister Imran Khan—an old friend of William’s mother, the late Princess Diana. They also signaled their support for women’s education by visiting a girls school in Islamabad, and helped local children set a leopard camera trap in the Margalla Hills, the Himalayan foothills just outside Islamabad.
Later, they arrived in a brightly painted rickshaw—usually banned in Islamabad—for the evening reception at the Pakistan National Monument. Security is extremely tight for the trip, during which the couple is also set to visit Lahore tomorrow.