Royal tour: Something peculiar was going on during William and Kate's Pakistan visit

18 October 2019, 21:34 | Updated: 19 October 2019, 06:04

We were heading home. I was curled up in my aeroplane seat, eye mask on, earplugs in, when I heard the giggling.

Lifting my eye mask, I found Prince William and Kate standing next to my seat. They'd come to the back of the plane to say hello to us again and caught most of us fast asleep.

It was the third time they had made the effort to come back and chat. It may not sound like a big deal, but it doesn't usually happen on royal tours - and if it does, members of the family have never spent that long with us.

A small gesture, but one that set the tone for their trip to Pakistan. A chance for us to really find out what they had wanted to achieve on their most complex tour to date.

Showing how a tour should be done

As Brexit dominates back home and the Queen concentrates on constitutional duties, these overseas tours by younger members of the family are a display of UK's global priorities.

Countries fall over themselves to get a visit from the likes of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The kudos is immense.

They are a mutual backslapping exercise with great photo opportunities for Pakistan, and a chance for the UK government to show where our aid budget is being spent on worthwhile projects.

William and Kate are becoming old hands at these high-profile visits. Yes, we saw projects that highlight things that matter to them, such as climate change and child poverty, but official duty for Queen and country come first.

Compare it with the tone of the end of the Prince Harry and Meghan's tour a few weeks ago and you couldn't have a bigger contrast.

Harry had made it all about them by releasing a statement announcing legal action against The Mail on Sunday and criticising the press.

It overshadowed important meetings on their last day with the likes of South Africa's president, and some of the great work they had done at the start of the trip. As we head back from Pakistan, you could argue his brother and sister in law have shown how it should be done.

Future King and Queen

Visiting the Islamabad model college for girls on the first full day of the trip, Prince William was asked an interesting question.

One of the pupils wanted to know what he wanted to do when he was their age. He chose his answer carefully, saying he always wanted to learn to fly. But we all know his life as a senior member of the Royal Family and future king, was mapped out from the day he was born.

Tours are an ideal chance to observe how the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are continuing to shape their working lives together.

Prince William's tour of the Middle East last summer had shown him to be an increasingly statesmanlike figure, and Pakistan was another example of how he's really coming into his own on the diplomatic stage.

A couple of years ago, he was criticised for being workshy and not knuckling down to his royal duties. He now seems to be more confident and clear on how he wants to use his royal role. Kate also seemed more at ease on this trip.

As a woman who's married into this life, she has a difficult balancing act. Doing her duties in a way that are authentic and suit her personality, with the enormous expectations of a worldwide audience who watch her every move.

I was able to go inside the orphanage they visited in Lahore and watch as they went into one of the houses where the children stay.

The couple were lovely with the children, they seemed more relaxed in front of the camera than they sometimes are. A husband and wife who came across as a tight working partnership.

But as part of the Royal Family, relationships with other households are just as important. While we were on tour, something peculiar was happening.

Buckingham Palace was helping to promote a documentary about Harry and Meghan's Africa tour releasing clips of Harry criticising the press and Meghan saying how tough it had been for her as a new mum.

A strange thing to do when you consider there is an unwritten rule in the Royal Family, that you don't do anything too high profile when other members of the family are on tour.

Who knows what is going on behind the scenes. Prince William and Kate do appear in a good place. A strong team, keen to just get on with the job.