From Slumdog to Bollywood -And a Spot of Cricket a Legend

Prince Williams went to the crease first, facing three balls from Tendulkar and surviving them all, before Kate went.

Published: 11th April 2016 09:41 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th April 2016 09:41 AM   |  A+A-

duke n dutches

Mumbai Prince William Duke of Cambridge and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge along with Cricket Legend Sachin Tendulkar during a charity program at Oval Maidan in Mumbai on Sunday. | PTI

It was a moment that summed up a day of bewildering extremes: royalty, celebrity and grinding poverty all coming together on the same Mumbai cricket pitch.

The Duchess of Cambridge, in a summer dress and wedges, faced a delivery from Sachin Tendulkar, India's greatest cricketer, which she slogged to mid on where she was caught out by a little boy from the city's infamous slums.

The Duchess, who showed natural ability with the bat, may well have set herself up for a catch deliberately, and clearly won plenty of friends as she and the Duke of Cambridge began their first trip to India.

Within hours of arriving in the country they had experienced the polar opposites of Indian society, travelling to a slum to meet people living in severely deprived conditions, before attending a gala dinner with glamorous Bollywood stars.

The contrast was deliberate, as the red carpet event had been arranged to raise money for three charities working in the slums, and it was those same charities that provided the scratch cricket team that played with the royal couple at Mumbai's Oval Maidan recreation ground.

The Duke of Cambridge went to the crease first, facing three balls from Tendulkar and surviving them all, before the Duchess went in to bat.

Wearing a boho-chic dress by the Mumbai designer Anita Dongre, she faced three balls (tennis balls, in this instance) from local children, and was clean bowled first ball, before carrying on and making good contact with the next two.

Then Tendulkar, known as one of the greatest batsmen of all time but also no mean test bowler, returned to the wicket and bowled the ball that got the Duchess caught out.

He said afterwards: "She's very, very sporty. She did well... her form was very promising." He also praised the Duke for his clean hitting.

The reason for the cricket match was to highlight the work of Door Step School, Childline and Magic Bus, three charities that all work in Mumbai's slums to help protect the city's most vulnerable children and give them an education. Many slum children are working full-time by the age of seven, earning just pounds 3 a day scavenging rubbish dumps or gutting fish.

It was also a chance for the Duke and Duchess, who have faced recent accusations of being work-shy, to let their hair down. They have not undertaken a foreign tour together since 2014, and have become parents for a second time since then, but they appeared in their element as they whacked cricket balls, dodged footballs in a game of "tag" and chatted to local children.

The Duke and Duchess had started the day with a more sombre engagement, laying a wreath of white lilies at the memorial to staff and guests of the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, where 31 people died during the 2008 terrorist attack on the city.

They met two of the hotel staff who helped guests to safety during the atrocity; chef Raghu Deora, who was shot in the stomach and in the leg, and security manager Sunil Kudiyadi.

The royal couple are staying at the Taj as a show of support for the city in the wake of the attacks, which remain fresh in the memory eight years on.

The Duchess told Mr Deora that "it must have been a surreal time", while the Duke told Mr Kudiyadi: "You're very brave, you saved a lot of lives. Well done."

Mr Deora also cooked the couple's lunch, which was largely vegetarian, in accordance with the couple's instructions. Travellers in India often avoid eating meat to minimise the risk of food poisoning.

The Duchess mixed Indian colour with British couture for her arrival, wearing a red Alexander McQueen dress with an Asian-themed pattern.

After playing cricket, the Duke and Duchess moved on to the Malabar Hill slum, where more than 10,000 people live in 1,500 tiny dwellings.

The couple were each given a tika welcome spot on their foreheads before they were taken into the maze-like slum itself.

With the Duke crouching down at times to avoid concrete ledges above, the couple walked down a shoulder-wide alley past single-room dwellings where large families eat, sleep and cook in a space that is typically 8ft by 8ft.

Ashok Rathod, a local football coach, said: "We never thought that Prince William and Princess Kate would visit a slum and talk to the children. For us this is a big thing. It's like a dream come true."

Later, the Duchess again blended British and Indian fashion as she wore a dress by the British designer Jenny Packham, with beading that was hand-sewn in India, for the gala dinner at the Taj hotel. She accessorised with earrings by the Indian jeweller Amrapali.

Among the guests were the king and queen of Bollywood, the actors Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. Mr Khan, who sat next to the Duchess at the dinner, was so delighted to meet the royal couple that he invited them out on the town with him. Asked what his first impressions of the Duchess were, he said: "Is it OK to say she's extremely beautiful and elegant? Well, she is! If they spend more time here I think they'll love it. I could definitely show them a good time! I'll take them out."

The event was expected to raise a six-figure sum for the three charities represented at the cricket ground, but the wealthy stars were still given a lesson in royal etiquette by Sir Dominic Asquith, the British High Commissioner, before they were asked to donate generously.

They were asked to stand when the royal couple entered the room and were told to put their phones away and not to take photographs or videos of the evening. He also asked them not to "besiege" the couple.

Madhuri Dixit, an actress who met the couple, said: "The Duchess said she loves being here and the people are very welcoming, but she was worried she may miss her children."

The couple chose vegetarian dishes again, which included mushroom and pea curry, vegetable kebabs, spinach and corn curry and red lentil dahl.

The Duke said in a speech: "When Catherine and I were married, India was the first place on Catherine's list that she told me that she wanted to visit. Two children and five years later, we have finally made it - and we are both honoured to be here.

"Catherine and I are full of admiration for this diverse and democratic society. No one can come here without being awed and amazed; no one can come without a sense of excitement about all that India has achieved in the past and the extraordinary promise it holds for the future."


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