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Royals

Prince William and Kate begin royal tour of India

Rafiq Maqbool, The Associated Press

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MUMBAI, India -- The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge paid their respects at one of the sites of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks Sunday as they began a weeklong visit to India, their first royal tour in two years.

Prince William and his wife, the former Kate Middleton, began their first engagement in India by laying a wreath at a memorial at Mumbai's iconic Taj Mahal Palace hotel, where 31 people were killed in the 2008 attacks. A total of 166 people were killed when 10 gunmen targeted multiple locations in the city.

Crowds of onlookers gathered to catch a glimpse of the couple as they got out of their car and entered the hotel, where employees welcomed them with garlands of roses.

In the visitor's book at the hotel, the couple wrote: "In memory of those who lost their lives and those injured in the senseless atrocities at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel."

Later Sunday, the royal couple played a round of cricket at a local cricket academy. Kate, in a printed tunic dress, smiled and waved at people who had gathered at Mumbai's well-known Oval cricket grounds, while William, in shirt-sleeves and dark glasses, took the first turn with the bat as Indian cricket great Sachin Tendulkar bowled a single slow delivery.

After that, a young schoolgirl bowled to William, who was caught with the second ball.

Kate, too, faced a couple of slow deliveries at the exhibition match, which gave her and her husband a chance to mingle with cricket enthusiasts.

It was a busy afternoon for William and Kate. They met children and volunteers from three Mumbai nongovernmental organizations that work with the poor and took a tour of Mumbai in an open-top bus with slum children.

The royal couple capped their first day in India at a charity ball at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel attended by Bollywood stars including Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. Also attending were Tendulkar and other Indian sports stars, as well as business leaders.

William and Kate are travelling without their two children -- 2 1/2-year-old Prince George and 11-month-old Princess Charlotte. They had taken George to Australia with them in 2014 on their last royal tour.

During their trip, the royal couple will sit down for lunch with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. In a nod to William's conservation efforts, they'll visit Assam state's Kaziranga National Park, home to two-thirds of the world's Indian one-horned rhinos.

They'll also take a one-day trip to neighbouring Bhutan at the invitation of the Himalayan kingdom's King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema.

William and Kate will then head back to India, where they'll wind up their tour with a visit to the Taj Mahal, retracing the steps of a 1992 visit to the monument of love by William's mother, the late Princess Diana. 



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