Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate flew by helicopter to a remote Hindu Kush glacier near the Afghan border. The royal couple was seen in northern Pakistan on Wednesday, wearing traditional headgear and clapping to the music as they met a tiny animist tribe in northern Pakistan.
Kalash is Pakistan’s smallest religious minority and an ancient polytheistic tribe who live in three valleys. The Duke and the Duchess of Cambridge spent the afternoon and witnessed the effects of climate change on the tribe.
They are believed to be descended from Alexander the Great and they worship their gods with music and dance. Men and women are allowed to mingle freely and women can select their husbands but also move on to new loves, setting them apart from much of patriarchal Pakistan.
Their way of life, for a long time, have practiced for centuries is under threat, both by global warming and the gradual absorption of their people into Islam. The royal couple also visited by helicopter to a melting glacier in Broghil Valley National Park, near the border with Afghanistan.
In a statement from Kensington Palace said, they walked around the northern tip of the glacier and saw how far it has retreated in recent years. The northern side of Pakistan is one of the most glaciated regions in the world. According to the experts, the ancient, vast rivers of ice serve as a water store for 250 million people.
Global warming has alarmed residents who watch helplessly as the glaciers melt so quickly that they have unleashed devastating floods. Chitral district in 2015, was badly affected that left thousands of families camping in the open just as the cold winter approached.
To discuss the meeting, the couple met with environmental experts and later spoke with residents who have suffered in the floods. Emergency response teams demonstrated first aid and a river crossing, then clicked selfies with William and Kate.
The melt of the of a glacier has been considered as an “impending catastrophe” by the Duke in a speech delivered at a glittering reception in Islamabad late Tuesday. The Duke and Dutchess, during a refueling stop on the way to the glacier, tried on a Chitrali cap given a touch of luxury with a peacock feather that local media said was a gift to them from residents.
They also tried on chapans, long bulky embroided coats popular in Central Asia, as well as a lush woolen shawl for Kate, who snapped her own share of pictures during the trip. But the diminishing tribe — who now number only around 3,000 people — fear that their unique culture will not endure.
Sources said that Prince William listened eagerly as a local guide explained the steps to the dance performed by the Kalash for the royal couple. Their five-day trip will end on Friday, said Kensington Palace which is their ”most complex” tour to date.