The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made their first stop on their Canadian tour after arriving in Victoria, heading straight to the B.C. Legislature where they were greeted by raucous cheers by the assembled crowd of onlookers, estimated at 10,000.
Prince William and Duchess Kate walked a long red carpet, greeting well-wishers along the way.
The royal couple took their time chatting with elderly veterans and others while accompanied by an assortment of dignitaries, including PM Justin Trudeau and wife Sophie Gregoire, in addition to Canada’s Governor General and the Premier of B.C., with Trudeau tweeting about the occasion.
“I know you’ve visited canada before, but as any parent who’s travelled with children knows, it’s a whole other experience when you bring your children with you,” said Trudeau in his welcoming remarks. “If they’re anything like our kids, getting them back on the plane after a visit to our beautiful West Coast will really be a challenge.”
Taking the podium, Prince William praised Canada and, in particular, British Columbia. “It is a pleasure to be welcomed in such a beautiful setting,” he said. “Catherine and I are delighted to be back in Canada. When we were here last time, we were married only three months. The warm welcome you gave us at that important moment in our lives meant a lot to us, and we have never forgotten it. That is why we’re so pleased that George and Charlotte can be with us in Canada this time around, beginning their own lifetime of friendship with this wonderful country.
“Over the next week, Catherine and I will once again see what makes Canada such a special place in the world,” he said, adding. “Catherine and I have asked to meet as many people from as many walks of life as we can while we’re here. We are very much looking forward to learning how Canadians are tackling some of the biggest challenges of the day, including the environment, supporting young families and the mental health of young people, subjects about which wer’e very passionate.”
Prince William even cracked himself up recalling his last visit to B.C., when he was a teen. “We feel very fortunate to have time to get to really know parts of this country that we did not get to visit in 2011, but of which I have very happy memories as a shy teenager,” he said, adding jokingly, “A few of you remember it too well, I think.”
The Prince also sent along a greeting to Canadians from Queen Elizabeth II. “In the year of the Queen’s 90th birthday, I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to thank the people of Canada for the warmth and generosity they’ve extended to my grandmother throughout her reign,” he said. “The Queen has asked me to extend her warmest greetings to you and her thanks for all the goodwill you have shown her during her 90th birthday year.”
Prince William even spoke some French, admitting jokingly: “It’s a little rusty, please work with me.”
Following the speeches, William and Kate laid a wreath at the Cenotaph to honour those brave Canadians who gave their lives defending our country through their military service, and then walked the red carpet to greet the public, with both royals collecting numerous gifts and bouquets of flowers from onlookers.
The royal visit continues tomorrow, with William and Kate heading to Vancouver for a jam-packed day.