2006, November 03
The Prince of Wales website (www.princeofwales.gov.uk)
News Article

The Prince of Wales visits the Himalayas in Pakistan with the Aga Khan and The Duchess of Cornwall

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall travelled to the first organic village in Pakistan today on the last day of their tour to the country.

The Prince and The Duchess travelled 7,000 feet above sea level in the Himalayas to visit the tiny dwelling of Nansoq with The Aga Khan.

The Prince and The Duchess have spent just under a week in Pakistan, visiting Islamabad and Pakistan-administered Kashmir where they saw a village ravaged by last year’s earthquake.

The Prince spoke of his enjoyment at visiting Pakistan. He said: “It is wonderful, particularly this part of the world. To get to this part is very special. I’m thrilled.”

The Duchess summed up the tour, and said: “I’ve had a wonderful time.”

The Prince and The Duchess, accompanied by the Aga Khan, toured Nansoq which sits next to the striking jagged snow-capped mountains of the Karakoram range and watched locals shearing sheep, embroidering and weaving.

The Duchess was given a small ornate green and silver cap by locals, which she promptly placed on her head.

Sher Khan, who is involved in the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme which gave the village its organic status, said afterwards: “It’s a local Balti cap - a Nating. It’s a very special cap. Usually in old times it was put on at a special occasion, like a wedding.

“It’s made of pure wool and took three days to make.”

In the open air, between the trees, was a 20ft banquet table decorated in a vivid pink cloth, laid out with cooking pots of food, china cups and plates brought up from the nearest town Skardu.

A well-known local cook called Ahmed travelled from Skardu to make the local specialities made from organic food from the area such as Balay goat meat soup, walnut and mint sauced Brabo and Kisir pancakes.

The food was entirely pesticide and GM-free and from Nansoq. The Prince, who believes strongly in the clear advantages of organic farming, was the first to try the food, sampling some local bread.

He broke a piece off the round flat dough and ate it, soon followed by The Duchess. The Prince tried another dish before both sampled a piece of dried apricot, which The Duchess said was “delicious”.

Nansoq is developing a niche market for organic goods in Pakistan since it cannot compete with farming in other areas of the country.

The Prince converted his own Home Farm near Highgrove in Gloucestershire to organic farming more than 20 years ago and has his own organic food brand Duchy Originals, with all the profits going to charity.

The Prince was presented with a 23-stone yak when he visited the village of Altit on the other side of the river in the Karakoram range.

The Prince and The Duchess patted the yak on the nose before handing it back to the village, as custom dictates that the animal, a traditional gift for visitors, is immediately handed back to the giver as a goodwill gesture.

Altit is situated around a 900-year-old fort and The Prince and The Duchess were seeing the work of the Aga Khan’s Cultural Service which is helping the village prepare for a tourism boom expected to follow the conservation of ancient fort.

On a sheer rock face, someone had precariously climbed up to write welcome messages on the mountains including “Nice to See You” and “Welcome Royal Couple”. There was also a crown motif.

The villagers were particularly excited to see the spiritual leader Aga Khan, who last travelled to Altit six years ago.

The Aga Khan’s Cultural Service has been helping to empower women in the village, involving them in the harvesting of apricots and other economic schemes.

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