Britain’s Prince William and Kate sat on a bench in front of the iconic Taj Mahal, an Indian emperor’s monument to love, in Agra Saturday, hoping to create what Kensington Palace described as “new memories.”
The Taj Mahal trip was the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's last engagement on a week-long tour to India and Bhutan.
William’s mother, the late Princess Diana, appears in a well-known photograph sitting in solitary splendour in front of the monument during a 1992 trip – a photo that was widely interpreted as a sign of the breakdown of her marriage to Prince Charles.
The couple did not take any other trip together and divorced in 1995 after 15 years of marriage and one year before Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris.
William was 15 at the time and his brother Harry was 12.
The white marble bench is popularly referred to by Taj Mahal guides as the Diana seat.
William was aware of how popular his mother was in India and appreciated the iconic status of the images that exist of her at the Taj, Kensington palace said.
“He feels incredibly lucky to visit a place where his mother’s memory is kept alive by so many who travel there," the statement said.
In a contrast to Diana and Charles who kept largely separate engagements during their trip, the chemistry between William and Kate was very visible specially as they walked arm-in-arm during a trek to a Bhutanese monastery, Indian media said.
The couple flew in from Bhutan to Agra in India at around noon local time and in the evening drove to the Taj Mahal complex in an electric-powered bus.
The buses have been introduced to minimise environmental damage to the 17th century monument.
They spent over an hour at the iconic mausoleum, British High Commission officials said.
William kept his jacket on despite the heat. Kate was wearing a blue and white dress by New York-based Indian-American designer Naeem Khan with arched patterns that seemed to match the monument's architecture.
The couple took a stroll around mostly by themselves and posed for photographs on the Diana seat and again standing closer to the monument.
The stunning white marble Taj Mahal with its huge central dome and four minarets was built in the mid-17th century by the Moghul emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his third and favourite queen, Mumtaz Mahal.
After his death, Shah Jahan was buried in the mausoleum beside her.
The monument, an UNESCO World Heritage site, draws 7 to 8 million visitors every year. Three of the Taj Mahal's minarets were encased with scaffolding as it is undergoing renovation.
Asked what he thought of the Taj, Prince William reportedly said: "It's beautiful."
The couple arrived in Mumbai on April 10 and visited New Delhi, a national park in northeastern India and Bhutan before reaching Agra.
Their packed programme included tributes to victims of terrorism and interaction with underprivileged children as well as the business leaders and Bollywood stars in Mumbai.
In New Delhi, they met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, paid homage at memorials to soldiers and to Mahatma Gandhi besides attending a 90th birthday party for Queen Elizabeth.
After a two-day trip to the Kaziranga national park in Assam where they saw wildlife conservation efforts they visited the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.
The couple, who are not travelling with their young children George and Charlotte, return to Britain tonight.
Sunday, April 10, 2016 - 22:06
Friday, April 15, 2016 - 14:54