Stringent security measures are in place at the Taj Mahal for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton’s visit to the monument on Saturday.
The couple is expected to arrive at the iconic ‘monument of love’ late afternoon, at around 3:45 pm, and will fly to Delhi post dinner. The Taj Mahal will remain open to public during the royal visit.
Archaeological Survey of India officials said due to exemption under protocol, the royal couple and their entourage will neither be required to purchase tickets nor undergo frisking at the entrance. They will use a separate pathway to Taj, where they will stay for about two hours.
While officials in-charge at the Taj speculated closing the monument to the public during the royal viewing, it was decided to keep it open. District magistrate Pankaj Kumar said all required security arrangements were in place.
The monument is closed off on Fridays but hosts additional crowds over weekends. Zayareen (pilgrims) returning from Ajmer also camp in Agra, and often visit the Taj Mahal too.
“We have sufficient manpower and the state police will assist us,” Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) commandant at Taj, Sudhir Kumar said. “Arrangements are being made keeping in view the volume of the crowd.”
The internal security of Taj is assigned to the CISF which will be assisted by state police and Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC). As a precaution, security personnel will be posted on roof tops in the localities around the Taj Mahal.
The Duke and Duchess have been on a week-long tour to India from April 10, their first official visit to the country, and travelled to Mumbai, Delhi and Kaziranga National Park. The royal couple also flew to Bhutan on an invitation from King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. The trip to Agra is enroute their way back to Delhi where the couple will conclude the seven-day trip.
To mark the Duke and Duchess’ visit to Agra, a local cafe is serving a special complimentary coffee, the Royal Duchess coffee to customers. The Sheroes Hangout café is run by acid attack survivors.
Post Independence, the Duke’s grandparents, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip visited Taj Mahal in 1961. Both of Prince William’s parents also came to see the Taj Mahal – Prince Charles in 1982 followed by Lady Diana in 1992, exactly a decade later.
Of the visits, Lady Diana’s visit remains most memorable, with her photograph sitting at a marble bench in front the Taj becoming iconic. Till date, the bench is called the Diana seat.