Mumbai, April 10 (IANS) Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, on Sunday started their first visit to India by paying homage to the victims of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks here.
Landing in the metropolis just before noon for their seven-day tour of India and Bhutan, the royal couple went straight to Hotel Taj Mahal Palace, where they were accorded a ceremonial welcome by the hotel general manager Taljinder Singh.
Shortly thereafter, the royal couple – who will stay at the hotel during their Mumbai trip – paid homage to the victims of the Mumbai terror attacks by laying a wreath at the 26/11 memorial on the hotel premises.
Later, they interacted with staff who were witness to the hotel attack by 10 Pakistani terrorists on November 26-28, 2008.
The iconic hotel stands just opposite the historic Gateway of India, built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911.
Threafter, the royal couple joined a cricket match organised by three NGOs – Magic Bus, Doorstep and India’s Childline – where both Prince William and Kate took to the crease and batted for some time, as visibly excited onlookers cheered on.
A large number of children, representatives of the non-governmental organisations and other invitees were present on the occasion at the famed Oval Maidan in south Mumbai, where Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar and former cricketer Dilip Vengsarkar also joined them.
The British royals then headed for the around 900-year-old Banganga Tank at the Malabar Hill, constructed in 1127 by the Silhara dynasty rulers of the then Thane kingdom.
They were presented with garlands and flowers, after which the couple showered petals in holy reservoir.
Legend has it that the reservoir came into existence when Lord Ram’s brother Laxman shot an arrow into the ground during their exile, sprouting a tributary of the Ganges river there.
Prince William and Kate will on Sunday evening attend a gala reception and dinner with some of the top names in Indian business and Bollywood, before leaving for New Delhi on Monday afternoon.
They are scheduled to visit the Taj Mahal in Agra.