AGRA, India (AP) — The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the Taj Mahal on Saturday, following in the footsteps of Prince William’s late mother, Princess Diana, who traveled there 24 years ago.
The British royals were briefed by a guide as they entered the compound that houses the iconic monument to love.
Ahead of the couple’s visit, about a dozen armed policemen entered the complex and the left section was cordoned off. Ordinary tourists could enter the building from the right. The royal couple caused a great deal of excitement, with dozens of people taking pictures on their cellphones.
The visit to the Taj Mahal by William and his wife, the former Kate Middleton, will be filled with nostalgia. Comparisons will inevitably be drawn to Diana’s 1992 photograph as she sat alone on a marble bench in front of the white marble mausoleum built by a Mughal emperor to entomb his beloved wife.
Newspaper headlines had suggested that Diana was delivering a hidden message about the end of her marriage to Prince Charles. Four years later, the two announced their divorce.
The streets of Agra, a normally chaotic city, were freshly swept Saturday morning in anticipation of the British royals.
Agra is the last stop on the royal couple’s weeklong visit to India.
William and Kate arrived in Mumbai on April 10 and laid a wreath at the Taj Palace hotel, which was targeted in the 2008 terrorist attacks that killed 166 in the city. They played cricket with local children and met Bollywood stars and business leaders at a charity ball before flying to New Delhi, where their schedule included lunch with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a birthday party to honor Queen Elizabeth II, who turns 90 next week.
The couple, travelling without their young children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, then flew to northeastern India’s Assam state to visit Kaziranga National Park, which has two-thirds of the world’s population of Indian one-horned rhinos as well as endangered swamp deer.
They then flew to neighboring Bhutan at the invitation of its King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema.