Imran Khan says 'it was important for William to know how much Diana was loved in this country' as he celebrates Kate and Wills' trip to Pakistan
- Pakistan's PM met the royal couple in Islamabad as part of their five-day tour
- He said that Diana's death sent shock waves through the south-Asian nation
- The Duke and Duchess followed in Diana's footsteps as they toured Pakistan
The former international cricketer was a friend of Diana, Princess of Wales - who visited a cancer hospital in Lahore as his guest just three months before her death in 1997.
Speaking in an interview with CNN, Mr Khan said he told the Duke of Cambridge that Diana's death sent shock waves through even the most rural parts of the nation.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan said he felt it was 'important' for Prince William to know how much Princes Diana 'was loved' in Pakistan
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge embarked on a five-day tour of Pakistan, following in late Diana's footsteps.
Speaking to CNN's Max Foster, Mr Khan said: 'I met Prince William after 23 years. Last time I met him he was a boy, along with Prince Harry and they came with their mother to my ex-mother in law's house.'
'I was telling Prince William that I was in the outbacks – my constituency, which is Mianwali-I, is really considered an outback and it's really quite wild there.
'I was touring my constituency when I heard of the accident and I can tell you that the impact it had on the people shocked me.
Speaking to CNN's Max Foster, Mr Khan said he told the Duke of Cambridge that Diana's death sent shock waves through even the most rural parts of the nation
'I mean, these were rural peasants. I wouldn't have even thought they would have heard of Princess Di.
'But when they heard of accident and her death. It was just… I was amazed at how Princess Diana had penetrated, even in these rural constituencies.'
When asked how Prince William responded to this, he replied: 'I think it was important for him to know how much she was loved in this country.'
The chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf political party also spoke about his ambition to be Prime Minister, an aim he told the Prince about on their first meeting.
He said: 'I'd just started my political party. It's 23 years since I started my political movement and I assumed that it would be very easy, here's my party and I would go out and people would vote for me! Little did I realise what I would go through to get here!'
'I mean, God, it's a lifetime, the struggle of becoming a Prime Minister in a country, where unfortunately I had to fight two mafias.
The royal couple met Mr Khan in Islamabad on their first full day of engagements in the country on Tuesday
Mr Khan was recalling his friendship with Diana when journalists were allowed into his chamber for a few seconds to see the royal couple meeting him at his official residence
'The political parties were not headed by what would be politicians. They were political mafias.
'The heads of both parties are now in jail! It was a very difficult fight.
'It's not a normal, like, for instance, England's parliamentary democracy would be tame compared to the sort of struggle I had to go through.'
In 1996, Diana took William to see Mr Khan and his then wife, Jemima Goldsmith, at the Goldsmith family home in Richmond.
The Duchess of Cambridge (left) was the image of Princess Diana (pictured in 1991, right) when she and Prince William arrived in northern Pakistan to visit the Himalayan foothills on the second day of their tour
William recalled how everyone laughed at a gathering when the former Sussex and Worcestershire cricketer announced his political ambition to the then teenage Prince William and Diana.
Mr Khan, who was finally elected Pakistani Prime Minister in July 2018, suggested it had been as hard a slog as his earlier career as a Test cricketer.
'When I went with my mother to see a Test match my cousin was playing and he scored a century and I told my mother I wanted to be a Test cricketer,' he said.
'I never realised how difficult it was to eventually become one. Similarly, when I told you that I wanted to succeed I didn't realise it would take me 22 years.'
Princess Diana poses with Education Minister for Punjab Province Iqbal Chaudhary (second left), Jemima Khan, holding her son Sulaiman Isa, son of Jemima and Imran Khan, and her former husband, Mr Khan (right), at Lahore Airport in Pakistan in 1997
William, 37, replied: 'Sure. It's not so easy.'
His wife Kate, who was wearing white trousers by the Pakistani designer Maheen Khan, an emerald green tunic by Catherine Walker and a navy patterned scarf by Satrangi, another local designer, and earrings by the Pakistani firm Zeen, interjected: 'You stuck with it.'
The Prime Minister was recalling his friendship with Diana when journalists were allowed into his chamber for a few seconds to see the royal couple meeting him at his official residence in Islamabad.
They spoke about one of the places that the royal couple will visit tomorrow - the destination is currently under wraps - and Mr Khan said he thought Diana might have been there before.
Mr Khan uses the residence - known simply as The Prime Minister's House, for official entertaining but actually lives in his private house on the outskirts of the capital.
The Oxford-educated politician studied politics, philosophy, and economics at Keble College in the city of dreaming spurs between 1972 and 1975 before becoming a professional cricketer.
The tour was the first time a Royal Family member has set foot in Pakistan for 13 years due to violence and terrorism that has blighted the country, including the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007.
From cricket legend to Pakistan's PM: How Imran Khan became leader of his home nation
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad
Former Pakistan international cricket captain Imran Khan was elected as prime minister of the country in July 2018
Mr Khan had been pursuing power in his homeland since leaving London in 1996 to enter politics, putting such a strain on his marriage to the British heiress Jemima Goldsmith that they divorced in 2004 after nine years together.
The Oxford-educated former London playboy pledged to build a 'new Pakistan' when he addressed the nation on TV following his victory.
He also vowed to tackle corruption that was 'eating our country like a cancer', pledged good ties with neighbour India and said he would seek 'a more equal relationship' with the US.
His election victory followed a tumultuous campaign - capped by a suicide bomber killing 31 at a ballot booth on polling day – which was also marred by reports of meddling and intimidation by the military.
Known mainly in the West as a talented sportsman and infamous playboy, he presented a significantly more conservative and devout face to Muslim-majority Pakistan.
His Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, founded in 1996, governed northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province for five years but had to settle for a handful of seats nationally after the 2013 election.
However, he took advantage of the fall of Nawaz Sharif and a poor campaign by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to become prime minister last year.