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Archery challenge for William and Kate in Bhutan

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Media captionNicholas Witchell reports: Kate discovered archery is ''not as easy as it looks''

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have arrived in the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan and met the country's young king and queen.

They took part in a welcome procession in capital Thimphu and later tried the country's national sport, archery.

They were in the cockpit of their Royal Bhutan Airways chartered jet as it landed at Paro airport - one of the world's most challenging runways.

They are in the middle of a seven-day tour of India and Bhutan.

Bhutan: A land of revered royalty, tree-planting and happiness

In pictures: Duke and duchess in India and Bhutan

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Image caption The royal couple had an audience with Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and his wife Queen Jetsun Pema
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Image caption The duke and duchess left their hotel for a private dinner with the king and queen in the evening

Their two-day visit to Bhutan began with them being greeted on the tarmac at the airport by the king's sister. They were presented with a ceremonial scarf called a khadhar, given as a symbol of friendship.

The royal couple's convoy of cars then snaked its way through steep mountain valleys to Thimphu. At one point during the journey dozens of schoolchildren lined the road wearing traditional clothes and holding friendship scarves.

Mountain trek

At the Tashichho Dzong fortress in the capital, they had a private audience with Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, 36, and Queen Jetsun Pema - like the Cambridges, a young couple with a family.

They emerged about 30 minutes later and walked across a large courtyard to a Buddhist temple, where they were blessed and used tapers to light lamps.

The duchess was dressed in a Bhutanese-inspired outfit, with a mauve and blue skirt made from local material and styled on the country's national dress.

Later, during a visit to an open-air archery venue in Thimphu, they saw at first hand Bhutan's national sport.

Both Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge fired arrows at a target about 40m away. The couple also tried out khuru, a sport developed by cow herders which involves throwing large darts out of tree branches and bird feathers at targets.

The duke and duchess will return to India on Saturday, but over the next two days they will be hosted by Bhutan's royal couple, who are expected to name their first child - a boy - at the weekend.

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Image caption Paro airport is one of the most challenging places to touch down in the world
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Image caption Prince William also took up the archery challenge...
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Image caption And the duke and duchess tried the dart-based sport khuru

During their visit, the Cambridges will also trek up a mountain to visit the Tiger's Nest monastery. Perched at an altitude of 3,000m, the sacred site was built in 1692.

Prince William's father, the Prince of Wales, had planned to make the same hike in 1998 but became injured after a polo match - he stopped before the ascent and painted a scenic watercolour picture.


Analysis

By BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt

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The descent into Paro by plane, which has to navigate a mountainside, is not for the faint-hearted.

William and Kate are entering a once-isolated land.

Tourists could only visit from the 1970s; TV was introduced in the 1990s; and this former absolute monarchy became a constitutional one with an elected government in 2008.

Bhutan is a Buddhist country with an emphasis on gross national happiness rather than its gross domestic product.

However, the country's prime minister has acknowledged that this much-lauded concept can be overused, and can mask the kingdom's problems with debt, unemployment and poverty.

For two days the Cambridges will be guests of a young king and queen that are held in high regard by their subjects.

They'll learn how Bhutan - which once revelled in its remoteness - is now facing the challenge of how to retain its Buddhist traditions while also embracing the modern world.

Read more from Peter


The first leg of their tour in India, saw the Cambridges meet survivors of 2008's Mumbai attacks and fed orphaned baby rhinos and elephants at a wildlife park in Assam.

On Wednesday, the pair toured Kaziranga National Park in the state of Assam in an open-topped 4x4, catching sight of elephants, monkeys and a monitor lizard.

They later visited a village on the edge of the park to find out how villagers live side-by-side with the wild animals.

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