Diplomacy through dress: British royals visit Pakistan


More than a week ago, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, otherwise known as Prince William and Catherine Middleton, paid a visit to the nation of Pakistan by request of the Commonwealth office. 

In order to maintain strong relations with other countries and support charitable causes, the royals often embark on an annual “royal tour.” A member of the monarchy hasn’t visited the former British colony in 13 years. 

While on their trip, the Duke and Duchess grew accustomed to a number of Pakistani traditions and participated in what the nation qualifies as fulfilling pastimes, some of which include historic sightseeing, rutted rickshaw rides, games of cricket and evenings showcasing the beauty of Qawwali music. Throughout such endeavors, the royals were seen dressing in traditional Pakistani attire. 

While their mission to promote the importance of children’s education and healthcare seemed to create quite the buzz, it was their wardrobe which developed viral attention across the internet.

Upon their arrival, the Duke and Duchess were seen wearing a simple western ensemble. The following day, Middleton was quick to adopt customary Pakistani dress. She wore a striking cobalt blue suit, known as the salwar kameez. This particular look consists of a pair of trousers, wide at the waist and fall tapered at the ankles, and a straight-cut tunic which sits just above the knees. 

While some may consider this accessory old-fashioned, Middleton opted for a dupatta (a long scarf) which was draped over her shoulder to complete the look. 

In honor of their first official visit to Pakistan, the Duke and Duchess were celebrated at a function held at the nation’s monument in Islamabad. Throughout the evening, the royals exchanged words with a number of well-known individuals in the creative industry as well as business and politics.

One of the more captivating moments of the night was the way in which they arrived at the scene. Far from conventional, the Duke and Duchess stepped out of a rickshaw, a popular mode of transportation usually operated by a man. While the vehicle was adorned in world famous Pakistani truck art, the sight of attraction was of course the patrons seated in the back. 

Middleton stepped out in a Jenny Packham gown, immersed in emerald green and sparkle, complete with a sheer chiffon scarf to be laid at her side. As for Prince William, he opted for a sherwani — a long coat-like garment, usually worn on formal occasions. His sherwani, in particular, was turquoise and studded with diamonds. 

Both the Duke and Duchess chose dark green and blue hues, as they emulated the national colors of Pakistan. 

To continue their tour of Pakistan, the royals set out to Lahore, the second-most populous city in the nation known for its historic sights and deep-rooted culture. Placed on the outskirts of the Walled City is one of the most famous landmarks in the country, the Badshahi Mosque. 

In an effort to seek knowledge of growing interfaith communities and the history of the Mughal dynasty, the Duke and Duchess paid a visit to the holy sanctuary during their first days in the city. For this excursion, Middleton once again chose a green ensemble, but paired with gold this time. The look was yet another salwar kameez created by Pakistani designer, Maheen Khan. 

When entering the space, Middleton wore a headscarf as a means to cover her hair. This modest piece was inspired by the typical form of dress a Pakistani woman would wear while attending a religious sermon or prayer. 

In addition to the mosque, the royals engaged in a classic game of cricket while in Lahore. While the Duke wore traditional western clothes, Middleton wore an ivory kurta paired with trousers created by Pakistani designer Gul Ahmed. To elaborate, a kurta resembles a loose collarless shirt often aligned with casual wear. 

A sweet touch to this Ahmed piece was its embellishment of Jasmine flowers. The Jasmine flower is known as the national flower of Pakistan and one which invokes modesty and amiability — the many principles upon which Pakistan was founded. 

It may seem vain, but the royal’s visit was a welcome sight. Many took to Instagram showing their approval, and it was an overall engaging trip through traditional Pakistani garb.


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