CHITRAL: Britain's Prince William (R), Duke of Cambridge watches a traditional Kalash dance as his wife Catherine (C), Duchess of Cambridge, talks with a member of the Kalash tribe during their visit to the Bumburate Valley in Pakistan northern Chitral District. - AFP

William and his wife Kate flew near the Afghan border to visit a remote Hindu
Kush glacier yesterday, after a morning spent trying on feathered traditional
caps and luxurious shawls in Pakistan's mountainous north. The British royals
travelled by helicopter to a glacier in Broghil Valley National Park to see the
effects of climate change in one of the most glaciated areas of the world.

Residents of the
region have been sounding the alarm over its melting glaciers, which caused
devastating floods in 2015 that left thousands of families camping in the open
just as another cold winter approached. The Duke of Cambridge called the
glacial melt an "impending catastrophe" in a speech delivered at a
glittering reception in Islamabad late Tuesday. The couple met with
environmental experts to discuss the melting before going on to spend their
afternoon with the Kalash -- an ancient, polytheistic tribe who celebrate their
gods with music and dance.

The verdant,
plunging valleys of the northern Chitral district have long attracted tourists
for their natural beauty and their brush with legend as the home of the Kalash,
who claim ancestry from Alexander the Great. Activists have campaigned to
preserve the traditions of the diminishing tribe, now estimated to number
around only 3,000 people, making them Pakistan's smallest religious minority.

'Complex' tour

Earlier, during a
refueling stop on the way to the glacier, the Duke and Duchess tried on a
Chitrali cap given a touch of luxury with a peacock feather, which local media
said was a gift to them from residents. The flat, woollen hats, also known as
"pakols", are popular in northern Pakistan and throughout
Afghanistan, though feather decorations are usually reserved for special

They also tried
on chapans, long bulky embroidered coats popular in Central Asia; as well as a
lush woollen shawl for Kate. Kensington Palace has called the five-day trip,
which ends Friday, their "most complex" tour to date. The couple had
lunch Tuesday with Prime Minister Imran Khan -- an old friend of William's
mother, the late Princess Diana.

They also
signaled their support for women's education by visiting a girls school in
Islamabad, and helped local children set a leopard camera trap in the Margalla
Hills, the Himalayan foothills just outside Islamabad. Later, they arrived in a
brightly painted rickshaw -- usually banned in Islamabad -- for the evening
reception at the Pakistan National Monument. Security is extremely tight for
the trip, during which the couple is also set to visit Pakistan's
second-largest city Lahore, once the capital of the Mughal Empire, as well as
the region near the border with Afghanistan in the west. - AFP