Duke and Duchess of Cambridge pose in Taj Mahal, where Princess Diana posed alone

captionDiana, Princess of Wales, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge pose on a bench at the Taj Mahal
captionDiana, Princess of Wales, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge pose on a bench at the Taj Mahal

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have sat together on the bench at the Taj Mahal in India where Diana, Princess of Wales, was pictured 24 years ago.

Prince William and Catherine posed at the mausoleum in Agra on the final day of their tour of India and Bhutan.

William’s mother was captured sitting alone in front of the monument to love in 1992, shortly before the break up of her marriage to the Prince of Wales.

Royal officials said the duke and duchess hoped to forge new memories.

Analysis

They sat together in the famous spot
They sat together in the famous spot

By Peter Hunt, BBC royal correspondent

It was a day when a new royal narrative was written at India’s Taj Mahal.

The Diana photographs captured isolation; a princess soon to loosen her ties to the monarchy.

Today, her son, a prince, brought his wife to the Indian monument to love – something his father promised and failed to do with his first wife.

Here was a duke and a duchess who appeared comfortable together and in their own skins.

Tourists at the World Heritage Site are told by their guides about the “Diana bench”. It’s a talk that will have to be updated. Fresh memories have been created.

The couple toured the grounds before later heading inside
The couple toured the grounds before later heading inside

In searing temperatures of 41C (106F) they walked through the grounds to a marble plinth and sat down on the bench in front of a bank of photographers.

They were later given a private tour inside the mausoleum.

It took 22 years and 20,000 men to build the gardens, surrounding buildings and central mausoleum, constructed from white marble which was transported from 200 miles away by elephants.

The bench was cooled with water before it was graced by the Cambridges
The bench was cooled with water before it was graced by the Cambridges
They posed together in front of a bank of photographers
They posed together in front of a bank of photographers

Earlier, the Cambridge’s communications secretary Jason Knauf said: “The Duke of Cambridge is of course aware of the huge esteem his mother, the late Princess of Wales, is held in in India and he appreciates the status of the images that exist of the Princess at the Taj.

“He feels incredibly lucky to visit a place where his mother’s memory is kept alive by so many who travel there.

“Twenty-four years on from her visit to the Taj, the duke and the duchess are looking forward to seeing this beautiful place for themselves and creating some new memories as they say thank you to the people of India at the conclusion of this tour.”

It took 22 years from 1632 to build the white marble tribute to love
It took 22 years from 1632 to build the white marble tribute to love
Catherine wore a dress by designer Naeem Khan
Catherine wore a dress by designer Naeem Khan

But a Kensington Palace spokesman later rowed back from attaching any special significance to the photocall’s location, saying: “They made the decision because it is what all visitors to the Taj Mahal do – they sit on the bench with the perfect symmetry of the building behind them.

“Like everyone visiting this magical and beautiful place, they want to have a unique experience to remember forever.”

Former royal press officer Dickie Arbiter told the BBC the visit to the Taj Mahal was a “very brave” thing for Prince William to do.

Anniversary treat

The duke and duchess’s fifth wedding anniversary is on 29 April.

Taj Mahal tour guide Rizwan Mohammed, 35, said he wished them a happy anniversary, adding: “She said this is the perfect thing to do before their wedding anniversary.”

He said they were fascinated by the story behind the building, of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and his late, favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14th child.

He added: “(Catherine) said she (Mumtaz) really deserved this kind of building as they were madly in love with each other – the prince was laughing.

“They were down to earth, very casual. I was quite nervous but they were very normal. She was asking about the inscriptions and what they mean.”

The royal couple did not mention William’s mother Diana but the guide told them “she was beloved so much in the whole of India”.

Crowds of journalists gathered outside the Taj Mahal in anticipation of the royal couple's tour
Crowds of journalists gathered outside the Taj Mahal in anticipation of the royal couple’s tour

[su_note note_color=”#fefccb”]The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Libyan News’s editorial policy.[/su_note]

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