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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Keep fighting, William and Kate tell victims rebuilding their lives in riot torn communities

By Rebecca English

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge became the latest members of the Royal Family to lend their support to riot-torn communities.

Surprisingly Kate swapped her usual High Street favourites for a designer outfit by Alexander McQueen costing almost £2,000.

The blue and white military-style blouse which is on sale for £795 was tucked into a £580 pencil skirt with flirty kick pleats and finished with a pair of £500 Prada heels.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive in Birmingham today to visit the areas affected by last week's riots

The centre the royal couple visited was close to where Haroon Jahan, 21, and brothers Shazad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31, died in August 10. They were buried yesterday after an open-air funeral service attended by more than 20,000 mourners

She and the Prince received a warm reception as they promised to help those attempting to rebuild their lives.

One of those they met was shopkeeper Ajay Bhatia whose shop was ransacked – but who spoke of his pride that he had won British citizenship yesterday.

First, however, they met the parents of the three young men who died defending their community from looters in Birmingham.

Haroon Jahan, 21, and brothers Shazad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31, were killed last Tuesday when they were struck by a car as they tried to protect local shops.

Kate wore a silk blouse and matching pencil skirt by Alexander McQueen designer Sarah Burton

At a community centre in Winson Green, a short distance from the scene of the tragedy, the royal couple spent 15 minutes speaking with the bereaved families, including Tariq Jahan, Haroon’s father, who has moved the country with his dignified reaction.

The meeting was private but a spokesman for the couple said: ‘The Duke and Duchess are full of admiration for the dignified way which the families have shown they are dealing with their losses.’

There was also time to meet community leaders and members of the emergency services.

William comforted a woman who broke down in tears as she told him of the moment looters attacked her and ransacked the business she was working in.

Lorraine Wells, 52, an assistant at Cashino in Birmingham, later told how the prince, 29, tried to reassure her.

Genuinely interested: Kate chatted with local dignitaries and emergency service workers at the centre

Sympathetic: The duchess also had a private meeting with relatives of the three men who died during last week's violence

‘Don’t let them beat you,’ he said. You have gone through a terrific ordeal. Keep fighting. We will get them. I am here to help and here to listen to what you have to say.’

Afterwards the couple met Mr Bhatia, 52, and his wife Monika. The couple have two children at university aged 19 and 21 and opened their Machan Express Shop and Café on Newhall Street only last year.

Their shop was attacked last week by a gang of more than 50, some as young as ten.

‘They smashed open the till and were helping themselves to handfuls of sweets and crisps and drinks,’ said Mr Bhatia. ‘Can you imagine what a child of ten who is capable of that will turn out to be when they are 18 or 19?’

Touching moment: Prince William places a reassuring hand on his beaming bride's shoulder

Kate's hair looked flawless as usual, she accessorised with earrings and her engagement ring

The couple greet members of the police force at Summerfield Community Centre

Mr Bhatia explained to the couple that he only found out he had obtained British citizenship yesterday and, while he was shocked at what had happened, still felt proud that he had chosen this country to live in.

‘The community here has rallied around me in a way I did not think was possible. That is what being British is about. I love this country. I don’t feel ashamed, I feel proud.’

William replied: ‘It hasn’t put you off? Good, good. That’s the main thing. This is a wonderful country and we have much to be proud of.’

He then cheekily asked Mr Bhatia who he supported in the cricket – India or England. Kate hit him on the shoulder and said: ‘William! That’s naughty, that’s naughty!’ ‘Sorry, I had to ask,’ the prince said.

The controversial ‘cricket test’ was coined by former Tory minister Norman Tebbit who suggested that immigrants should root for England, not their original nation.

Mr Bhatia diplomatically said he was proud of the way both sides played – but made clear that he hoped India would bounce back in the one day games.



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