THE DUKE and Duchess of Cambridge have been praised for coming to Bradford and listening to the experiences of local people on the third leg of their visit to the city.

The royal couple were warmly greeted by dozens of people at the Khidmat Centre before meeting representatives of community groups, taking part in a grandmother and toddler session and even having a go at dhol drumming.

During a visit filled with humour and interest, William and Kate praised the welcome they received in the city, saying how impressed they were with the friendliness of everyone.


At a workshop hosted by the Near Neighbours project they heard how people across the city are getting together so they can get to know each other better.

Asked at what their perceptions were of the city by entrepreneur Kamran Rashid, 36, who works with the project, William said: “The diversity of Bradford is very intriguing with its 163 languages.

“I think what you are all doing to help each other and bring the community together is very powerful. You can see that communities are trying to come together, trying to help each other, get to know each other and that is really crucial.”

He said their visit to Bradford was part of a plan to tour the UK visiting places with different communities to try and understand the complex challenges that each faces.

Kate said: “It was very interesting to hear from everybody, we’re very grateful.”

William added: “Every city in the UK has challenges. You’re doing your bit and that’s fantastic.”

They were quick to ask questions of participants about the challenges Bradford faces and the benefits of a facility like the Khidmat Centre and learn about life in the district’s diverse communities.

Mr Rashid praised them for their visit and how friendly they were, saying just five minutes in their company could change people’s perceptions of the royal family.

They were given a present of a drawing by a young Iranian asylum seeker Yashar who created the artwork as part of a project to dispel myths about asylum seekers initiated by Mussarat Rahman, of Bradford Immigration and Asylum Support and Advice Network, which was featured at the National Science and Media Museum.

Near Neighbours co-ordinator Kaneez Khan said: “It exceeded all my expectations. They wanted to listen, hear and learn.

“They weren’t shy of the challenge.”

Mussarat Rahman said: “They were lovely, down to earth and it was like talking to my mum.

“They were so interested. They see people are people and don’t see any differences. That’s very good to hear.”

The Bishop of Bradford Toby Howarth, who took part in the workshop, said: “It has gone really well, they’re so down to earth and created a space for us to raise our issues.

“There was a willingness to listen and engage with us.”

As part of the visit they met members of groups the centre hosts, including youngsters with learning disabilities, a ladies creative crafts group, who crocheted and knitted bobble hats for the royal couple’s young children, and they took part in a workshop on mental health with three women with lived experience of it.

Kate participated in all the activities but confessed to the knitters that she had started a jumper for Prince George but that it had “splattered” halfway down the arm.

Sofia Buncy, national co-ordinator for the Khidmat Centres, said: “It’s been wonderful. They had a genuine interest and were especially interested in the mothers in prison.”

Councillor Fozia Shaheen, a project manager for young adults with disabilities, said: “It is an honour to have them here and give us time. Service users go to shake their hands, something they’d never have a chance to do.”

The royal couple also attended a session supported by Better Start Bradford involving grandparents who have child-caring responsibilities for their grandchildren.

They heard about the project and took part in singing songs in a host of languages.

Among the crowds waiting for the Duke and Duchess complete with Union flags to wave were children from Farnham and Horton Grange Primary Schools and the Co-op Academy Delius.

William and Kate got out their car before they got to the entrance, pending several minutes meeting and greeting those who had waited patiently for them to wish them well and hand over flowers and gifts, posing for dozens of selfies along the way.

The royal couple were especially impressed when they went into the centre by the sight of a huge cake decorated with images of them and their family through the ages created by Siama Ali.

Siama, who runs a company called Cup Caker, spent three days and nights creating the multi-layered cake, cup cakes and edible pictures and frames and William and Kate were presented with the top tier complete with their portrait.

William said that in an old picture of him he looked just like their daughter Charlotte. He added: “That’s incredible, amazing. I’m very impressed. It’s very special thank you.”

Siama said: “I’m over the moon. I got to speak with with them, it was awesome.”

Also impressed with the visit was dhol drummer Gary Singh, who entertained the royal couple and the crowds waiting outside, with Wid Malik as The Firm.

Gary said: “I asked William ‘would you like to have a go’ and he said ‘fantastic, thank you’.”

He thought the Duke did well on the traditional instrument: “He’s got some rhythm.”