When the Duchess of Cambridge touched down in Pakistan yesterday, she drew admiring glances – just as a previous royal visitor had done.

Kate's elegantly demure outfit echoed the ensemble that Princess Diana wore with such poise on her visit to the country in 1996.

She wore an aqua shalwar kameez – a traditional Pakistani outfit comprised of a flared kurti, a long shirt, and trousers – by British designer Catherine Walker, who also made clothes for the late princess.

Royals in Pakistan: Diana in 1996 and Kate in 2019. Photos / Getty Images
Royals in Pakistan: Diana in 1996 and Kate in 2019. Photos / Getty Images

The choice of outfit was a respectful nod to tradition in the largely Muslim country.

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Arriving in Rawalpindi just after 9.30pm, the duchess and Prince William were met by a group of dignitaries and two young children who presented Kate with a bouquet of flowers.

After their official welcome, the couple headed off in a heavily guarded convoy to their base for the week – the High Commissioner's official residence in the capital, Islamabad.

William was expected to spend the evening working on a major speech to be delivered today in which he is set to highlight the special relationship between the two countries – particularly the 1.5million people of Pakistani origin living in the UK – saying: "We share unique bonds and so it will always be in our best interests for Pakistan to succeed.

"You can always rely on the UK to keep playing an important role as a key partner and friend."

Pakistani children gift Kate a bouquet upon her arrival. Photo / AP
Pakistani children gift Kate a bouquet upon her arrival. Photo / AP

The couple's presence – the first royal visit since Charles and Camilla undertook a lengthy tour in 2006 – has sparked a major security operation involving more than 1000 police officers due to the ongoing threat of militant terrorism in the Muslim-majority state. The couple are even taking their own medic for the first time.

Pakistan has recently faced allegations of sponsoring Taliban forces in neighbouring Afghanistan and turning a blind eye to support for Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden – found living in Abbottabad in 2011.

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It is hoped that a successful tour by the Cambridges will help prime minister Imran Khan's efforts to restore his country's reputation internationally.

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The former international cricketer, who has known William since he was a child and was a friend of his late mother, will be meeting with the couple this week.