Delhi : Hectic preparations are underway in Agra for the grand welcome of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Prince William and Kate to the Taj Mahal today.
Local administration and police officials have made elaborate arrangements to ensure that the British royal couple has a memorable trip to the 17th century ‘monument of love’, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Officials said a review has been made of the security arrangements and hotels in the tourist complex area on the Fatehabad road have been directed to report the arrival of visitors from certain countries.
Prince William and Kate will arrive in Agra this afternoon by a special plane from Bhutan.
Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan in 1631 to hold the body of his wife as an enormous, opulent expression of his love.
After having lunch at Hotel Amar Vilas, they will head to the Taj Mahal at around 4 pm. They are scheduled to return late in the evening.
On Friday, municipal workers were seen cleaning up the whole area in Taj Ganj.
The visit comes 24 years after the visit of Princess Diana, who visited the monument of love alone in 1992. A photograph of her seated alone on a bench in front of the Taj Mahal made the front page of newspapers across the globe and was seen as emblematic of Diana’s troubled marriage to Prince Charles. They divorced in 1996.
That famed Diana seat on the central pool has been repaired, and the staircase were given a fresh coat of paint.
Ahead of their trip, the Royals’ spokesperson had said, “The duke and the duchess are looking forward to seeing this beautiful place for themselves and creating some new memories as they say ‘thank you’ to the people of India at the conclusion of this tour.”
Superintending archaeologist Bhuvan Vikram said that the scaffolding around minarets for repair work will not be dismantled, nor visitors stopped to the iconic monument.
Officials clarified that the entry of visitors is restricted only for visits by heads of government.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav will not be coming to welcome the dignitaries, as was earlier reported by a section of the media, and some hoardings placed.