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William and Kate meet homeless children in India

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have visited a charity working with destitute children Credit: PA

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have spent time with homeless children on a secret visit to a charity operating at a New Delhi railway station.

William and Kate visited Salaam Baalak Trust, which supports youngsters who end up at the station after running away from home or being abandoned by parents.

During the visit, Kate sat cross-legged on the floor and drew pictures with the children.

Around 7,000 children make their way to the train station every year and the charity helps by providing food and services like education and health.

William, 33, asked them what they hoped to be in the future. One said a doctor, another policeman and a third wanted to run his own shop.

The prince, said: "It's very interesting that the kids want professional careers. In the UK you ask them and they say footballers or pop stars."

He then asked the charity's managing director, Sanjoy Roy: "Is there the opportunity for them to do it, to have these professional careers-that's the question?"

"We hope so," he answered. "We look after around 7,000 kids a year but cities are not the place for kids.

"If we can't get them home the only thing to do is to send them back to school as soon as possible.

"We want them to study to enable them to have a future."

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving for a visit to a children's centre run by the charity Salaam Baalak Credit: PA

Details of the visit were not announced in advance to avoid the visit attracting large crowds.

The Cambridges then visited a boys' home near Delhi station where around 50 boys live in the four-storey building.

The royal couple also met the Salaam Baalak Trust's founder Praveen Nair, 85, who used money from her daughter's Oscar-nominated film Salaam Bombay to establish it 28 years ago.

The Duchess of Cambridge arrives at the contact centre run by the charity Salaam Baalak, which provides emergency help and long term support to homeless children at New Delhi railway station Credit: PA

Mrs Nair said: "It's really very heartening to see well-to-do people are aware of the problems and they come and see it for themselves.

"It's very fulfilling for me, the staff and the kids, to come and see us. It's very good for the children as it makes them feel important and goes a long way to building their self-confidence."

It was a revelation to see that they were like anyone else, like you or I. They didn't say 'oh it's dirty' or refuse to shake people's hands.

That is the pre-conceived opinion for all well-to-do people and Britishers.

– Salaam Baalak Trust's founder Praveen Nair

They are set to travel to Kaziranga National Park in the state of Assam, a wildlife conservation area of global importance that is home to elephants, water buffalo, the endangered swamp deer, tigers, and two-thirds of the world's population of the Indian one-horned rhinoceros.

The visit coincides with the Bohag Bihu festival, the celebration of the Assamese new year, and in the evening around a camp fire, the Duke and Duchess will meet local people and see dance and musical performances.

The Duke and Duchess are on a seven-day tour of India and neighbouring Bhutan, their first visit to both countries.

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