Home South Asia Pakistan The People’s Princess: Lady Diana’s Historical Visits to Pakistan

The People’s Princess: Lady Diana’s Historical Visits to Pakistan

Princess Diana made some memorable trips to Pakistan, mostly based on her philanthropic work in the country. Prince William and Kate Middleton’s upcoming tour refreshed the memories.

Princess Diana

While anticipations mount ahead of Kate Middleton and Prince William tour to Pakistan, people are reminiscing the visits of most-sought and celebrated, Princess Diana to Pakistan.

The graceful and charming late Princess Diana, mother of Prince Charles, had visited Pakistan several times in her life.

First Solo Visit in 1991

Her first visit came in 1991, making her first solo tour to the country. Princess Diana undertook a variety of engagements on her trip. From visiting girls schools, and a family welfare center in Islamabad, and the Badashahi Mosque and Kinnaird College for Women in Lahore, to the Khyber Rifles and the Chitral Scouts on a visit to the Northwest Frontier.

Her first tour was reserved in the history by her the then bodyguard, Ken Wharfe who had written in his book: “The headlines screamed that Diana had taken Pakistan by storm, that her visit had been a resounding success. The tabloids predictably hailed her vociferously as the jewel in the royal family’s crown, one of them claiming, employing a typically lame pun, that she was “All the Raj.”

Her first visit lasted for four days, in which she dined in with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had hosted a banquet in her honor at the Prime Minister House. In a meeting, she expressed hope that the close ties between Pakistan and Britain “will continue to flourish” and expressed happiness on behalf of Britain for Pakistan having joined the Commonwealth after an absence of 17 years.

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She also met the President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, with whom she discussed the matters of mutual interest. Later, he along with his wife hosted a dinner in her honor at the Aiwan-i-Sadar.

She also met the 49 scholars who had studied in Britain on scholarships funded by both British and Pakistan governments at a simple function held at Daman-i-Koh.

She then embarked on her second journey to Pakistan, a private trip spanning for two-days, to meet her friend Jemima Khan, the former wife of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Visit for Fund-raising in 1996

By the time, Princess Diana had developed deep relations with Pakistan. She again traveled the country in 1996, for the fund-raising of Pakistan’s first charity cancer hospital, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, a project of Prime Minister Imran Khan. She had spent the rest of her trip to visiting sick children and attending other fund-raising events.

Read more: 10 International celebrities that have visited Pakistan

She also attended an Eid Milan party at the hospital. A variety show had been arranged at the Eid Milan party where children suffering from cancer presented comic skits, jokes and danced to the tunes of popular songs.

Diana took children in her lap, caressed them, and later distributed gifts among them. Owing to the personal nature of the visit, she did not attend any official event. She was, however, provided security by the government. Her visit had sparked fury at the time, as it was taken as an expression to snub PM Benazir Bhutto.

However, a hospital statement issued said: “Lady Diana has agreed on a private visit to the hospital to meet children with cancer and lend her support to the charity. There’s absolutely no political aspect to her visit and the media attempt to create a scandal is both unfair and unwarranted.”

Diana’s Final Visit to Pakistan in 1997

Being a focal person in the construction of the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital. She even graced the opening ceremony of the hospital upon the invitation of Imran Khan and Jemima Khan, making it her fourth and final trip to Pakistan, before her death in a tragic car crash in Paris.

Now her son Prince William and daughter-in-law Kate Middleton are set to undertake their maiden visit to Pakistan this week. In his five-day-long visit to Pakistan, Prince William seeks to honor the relentless efforts of his mother for the underprivileged people in Pakistan.

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