The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge — Prince William and Kate Middleton — had an exciting first day in India of their royal tour, on Sunday. After being welcomed at the ultra-luxurious Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in South Mumbai, the royal couple set off for the Oval Maidan, where they played a game of charity cricket, to support underprivileged children, before visiting the heritage Banganga Tank site and finally, a glitzy charity gala dinner attended by the who's who of Bollywood.
The Duke and Duchess were dressed for the blazing Mumbai weather, slipping out of the formal outfits they had arrived in, for a more casual look on Sunday afternoon. While Prince William played it cool in blue, Kate was radiant in an Anita Dongre tunic with a Mughal print. Sensible but chic wedges completed her summery look.
Once at the Oval Maidan, Will and Kate met Sachin Tendulkar as well as the representatives of the three NGOs — Magic Bus, Doorstep and India's Childline — that had organised the charity cricket match. The purpose of the match was to raise funds to support vulnerable children across India.
While it was expected that Prince William would take his turn to bat, it was a pleasant surprise when Kate also stepped forward to practise her swings at the nets. She acquitted herself admirably!
Innings over, the royal couple headed off to the heritage Banganga Tank site where they were treated to a cultural programme. The Duke and Duchess also placed offerings of flowers in the water at this time.
The couple continued on their schedule with a star-studded charity gala in the evening, organised by the British Asian Trust, which was attended by the city's glitterati and Bollywood's top stars. For the evening, Prince William sported a classic black tuxedo while Kate chose a deep blue Jenny Packham gown, the extensive bead-work of which was done in India.
From superstars like Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan to young talent like Parineeti Chopra and Huma Qureshi — several members of the film fraternity were present at the royal dinner.
Shah Rukh Khan, dapper in a white dinner jacket and a black bow-tie, was the host for the evening along with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. He later tweeted: "The royal couple was so gracious and full of poise. Tonight as I said is the night of the King, the Queen and the Knights. Wish all nights were same."
Madhuri Dixit, who was accompanied by her husband Dr Sriram Nene commented on how down-to-earth the Duke and Duchess seemed. "It was a pleasure meeting their highnesses, William and Kate. Very gracious and down to earth," the actress said, in a tweet.
Other stars at the do included Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Kapoor, Karan Johar, Anil Kapoor, Aditi Rao Hydari, Alia Bhatt, Farhan Akhtar, Jacqueline Fernandez, Sophie Choudry, Sonam Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor and many more.
The decor for the evening saw a tasteful use of marigold flowers, and attempts were made to have a "truly India flavour" for the royal couple during their stay here.
On their tour, the royal couple will also attend a lunch hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Tuesday, visit Kaziranga National Park in Assam, take a break for a trip to Bhutan, and return to Agra in Uttar Pradesh to view the Taj Mahal.
With IANS inputs