Prince William speaks about mental health on Pakistan school visit

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Image copyright AAMIR QURESHI/Getty Images
Image caption The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met children at a government-run school in Islamabad

The Duke of Cambridge has spoken about the importance of young people learning about mental health during the first stop on the royal tour of Pakistan.

Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge met boys and girls at a government-run college in Islamabad on the first full day of their visit.

As he left the school, the prince said pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds do not have a “stable health platform”.

The couple also met Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan for lunch.

Kensington Palace said political tensions and security concerns meant the tour was the couple’s “most complex” to date.

It was organised at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office,

The duke and duchess began their five-day tour on Monday evening when they flew into the Pakistani Air Force base in Rawalpindi.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Princess William and Catherine are on a five-day tour of the Commonwealth country
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Image caption Kensington Palace said organising the tour was “complex” because of political tensions in the region

The couple are the first royals to officially visit the Commonwealth country since the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall visited the region in 2006.

As the duke and duchess left the Islamabad Model College for Girls on Tuesday, Prince William said to a teacher: “In the UK we’re trying to make sure mental health is part of education as well.”

He said students from disadvantaged backgrounds did not have a “stable health platform to build on” and that education in this area was important.

The royal couple, alongside the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, regularly campaign about raising mental health awareness. Last week the Every Mind Matters website crashed following the foursome’s appearance in a film to promote the mental health support initiative.

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Image caption The duke often speaks out about the importance of mental health services in the UK

Prince William and Catherine’s visit to the school in Islamabad involved them learning about girls’ education in Pakistan.

A local education officer, Mohammed Sohailkhan, told reporters the quality of education varies across Pakistan.

“I can’t paint you an entirely rosy picture,” he said. “It does still fluctuate wildly, particularly in rural regions, where there has traditionally been cultural barriers towards this, notably in terms of sending girls away to college.

“But these barriers are slowly being broken down,” he added.

The British High Commission said UK aid in Pakistan has helped more than five-and-a-half million girls to receive a quality education since 2011.

Image copyright OWEN HUMPHREYS/EPA
Image caption The royal couple also visited the Margalla Hills National Park, in the foothills of the Himalayas
Image copyright Owen Humphreys/REUTERS
Image caption The duke and duchess met children taking part in activities to learn about environmental protection

The duke and duchess heard about how pupils are benefiting from the Teach for Pakistan programme – a fast-track teacher training scheme modelled on the UK’s Teach First scheme.

The prince and his wife also visited the Margalla Hills National Park in the foothills of the Himalayas, before travelling to Mr Khan’s official residence in Islamabad for a private lunch.

Mr Khan, a former international cricketing star turned politician, was a friend of the prince’s mother Diana, Princess of Wales. Diana visited the country several times for charity work.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister, met the royal couple for lunch

One pupil at the visit to the college on Monday told the prince she and her classmates were “big fans of your mother”.

“Oh, that’s very sweet of you. I was a big fan of my mother too,” the duke said.

“She came here three times. I was very small. This is my first time and it is very nice to be here and meet you all,” he added.

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Image caption Diana, Princess of Wales on a visit to a hospital in Lahore in 1996
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The duke and duchess flew into Rawalpindi on Monday, where they were greeted by Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi (right)

Prince William and Catherine will attend a reception on Tuesday evening with guests from Pakistan’s business, music and film industries, as well as members of the government.

In a speech at the reception, William is expected to say that the UK and Pakistan share “unique bonds”.

“You can always rely on the UK to keep playing an important role as a key partner and friend,” he will add.

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