Prince William and Kate begin first tour of India, Bhutan

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INDIA -The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge laid a wreath Sunday for the victims of the Mumbai terror attacks as they began a seven-day tour of India and Bhutan, their first visit to the nations.

On their arrival in Mumbai, the royal couple were informed of the deadly temple fire in Kollam, where dozens perished Sunday.

The Duke and Duchess were “saddened by the news and send their thoughts to all who are assisting the victims,” a spokesman for Kensington Palace said.

Their first destination on arriving in Mumbai was the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, where dozens of people were killed during a three-day siege by Islamist terrorists in November 2008.

They paid tribute at a memorial to victims at the hotel, then spoke with hotel staff who helped protect guests during the attacks, Kensington Palace said on its Twitter feed.

The couple then visited Oval Maidan park where they watched a cricket match played by children who live in local slums, and met with representatives and beneficiaries of charities working to help underprivileged children.

They were scheduled to visit the city’s ancient Banganga water tank, before attending a Bollywood gala to raise funds for charities met during the day.

The next legs of the tour will see the royal couple visit India’s capital, New Delhi, Kaziranga National Park in the state of Assam, the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, and Agra, home of the Taj Mahal.

The tour comes on the back of criticism of Prince William in Britain’s tabloid press in recent months over perceptions he was slacking off from his responsibilities as a senior royal.

Last month, the Duke’s younger brother, Prince Harry, made a five-day visit to the neighboring Himalayan nation of Nepal.