Tuesday 6 December 2016

How Kate Middleton and Prince William's Taj Mahal tour banished the memory of Princess Diana's visit

Andrew Buncombe

Published 18/04/2016 | 08:30

Prince William and Kate Middleton's Royal India Tour Day Seven: for her iconic shot at the Taj Mahal, Kate wore a dress by Naeem Khan and a pair of earrings she purchased at a market in Bhutan for less than €10.
Prince William and Kate Middleton's Royal India Tour Day Seven: for her iconic shot at the Taj Mahal, Kate wore a dress by Naeem Khan and a pair of earrings she purchased at a market in Bhutan for less than €10.
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge looks on as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge fires an arrow during an Bhutanese archery demonstration on the first day of a two day visit to Bhutan on the 14th April 2016 in Paro, Bhutan. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge sit in front of the Taj Mahal during day seven of the royal tour of India
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to the Taj Mahal in India during day seven of the Royal tour to India and Bhutan
Prince William and Kate Middleton's Royal India Tour Day Seven: for her iconic shot at the Taj Mahal, Kate wore a dress by Naeem Khan and a pair of earrings she purchased at a market in Bhutan for less than €10.
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge sit in front of the Taj Mahal during day seven of the royal tour of India and Bhutan

What a difference a quarter of a century makes.

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Almost 25 years ago, a photograph of Princess Dina, sitting by herself in front of India’s most celebrated monument to love, sparked questions as to whether she was delivering a message about her faltering relationship with Prince Charles.

Four years after Diana was photographed sitting at the Taj Mahal, the couple announced their divorce.

On Saturday, those in charge of promoting the image of the British royalty revealed they had learned the lesson of such symbolism. On a tour to India that has dominated headlines in the nation’s media, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge sat and smiled for photos on the same marble bench where Dina had cast a lonely figure.

Princess Diana the Princess of Wales poses alone at the Taj Mahal during her visit in India in February 1992. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)
Princess Diana the Princess of Wales poses alone at the Taj Mahal during her visit in India in February 1992. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

The Associated Press said that on a hot day in Agra, the couple were briefed by a guide as they entered the compound that houses the marble monument, commissioned by the 17th Century Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

Asked how to describe the monument, the Duke said it was “stunning”. Perhaps aware of the lingering image of his forlorn mother, he said he and his wife had wanted to “create some memories of our own”.

Read more: Kate Middleton channels Maid Marian at Bhutan archery tournament while rival team insult 'baldy' William

The monument is located in the banks of the Yamuna river in Agra, around 100 miles south of Delhi. The site is India’s most visited tourist draw and the trip to Agra was the last stop on William and Kate’s India tour.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to the Taj Mahal in India during day seven of the Royal tour to India and Bhutan
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to the Taj Mahal in India during day seven of the Royal tour to India and Bhutan

They arrived in Mumbai on April 10 and laid a wreath at the Taj Palace hotel, which was targeted in the 2008 attacks that killed 166 people in the city. They played cricket with local children and met Bollywood stars and business leaders, before flying to Delhi, where their schedule included lunch with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The couple then flew to northeastern India's Assam state to visit Kaziranga National Park, which has two-thirds of the world’s population of Indian one-horned rhinos as well as endangered swamp deer. They then visited neighbouring Bhutan for two days, at the invitation of its King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema, before flying back to India.

The royal couple was scheduled to leave for London on Saturday night.

The couple’s first visit to India has secured widespread coverage in both the Indian and international media, much of it focussing on the duchess’s clothes; on Saturday she was reportedly wearing a white and navy dress by Indian-American designer Naeem Khan.

Prince William and Kate Middleton's Royal India Tour Day Five: For dinner with the King and Queen of Bhutan, she wore an embellished Tory Burch dress, an orange pashmina by Pickett London and sandals by Gianvito Rossi.
Prince William and Kate Middleton's Royal India Tour Day Five: For dinner with the King and Queen of Bhutan, she wore an embellished Tory Burch dress, an orange pashmina by Pickett London and sandals by Gianvito Rossi.

 (© Independent News Service)

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge looks on as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge fires an arrow during an Bhutanese archery demonstration on the first day of a two day visit to Bhutan on the 14th April 2016 in Paro, Bhutan. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge looks on as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge fires an arrow during an Bhutanese archery demonstration on the first day of a two day visit to Bhutan on the 14th April 2016 in Paro, Bhutan. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

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