UPDATED: Duke and Duchess a big hit in Victoria welcome

Prince William and his wife, Kate, begin a week of travel in B.C. and the Yukon

It was a smooth start to what will be a whirlwind tour of Canada’s west for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

The Royal Couple were welcomed to Victoria with open arms Saturday evening, with a crowd estimated at 10,000 setting up around the Inner Harbour and on the lawns of the B.C. Legislature well in advance of the arrival of Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton.

Having seen residents line the Pat Bay Highway on their trip in from Royal Canadian Air Force 443 Squadron in Sidney, the Duke and Duchess heard loud cheers erupt as they emerged from their vehicle in front of the cenotaph. They were immediately greeted by Prime Minister Trudeau and his wife, Sophie, Gov. Gen. David Johnston and his wife, Sharon, Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon, and Premier Christy Clark and her son, Hamish, then waved to the onlookers before laying a memorial wreath to Canadians lost in the war in Afghanistan.

As they made their way up the red carpet, the couple stopped for a lengthy chat with a couple of veterans at the fence line, as is their style.

When it was his turn to speak from the podium at the foot of the legislature front steps, Prince William said he and the Duchess were “delighted” to come to Canada again, this time with their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte. The Duke touched on the couple’s previous visit in 2011.

“When we were last in Canada we had been married only three months. The warm welcome you gave us at that important moment in our lives meant a lot to us,” he said.

“That is why we are so pleased that George and Charlotte can be with us in Canada this time round, beginning their own lifetime friendship with this wonderful country.”

In recognition of their schedule for the week, which will see them make stops at everything from the Cridge Centre for the Family in Victoria, to a pregnancy outreach centre on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, and experience First Nations culture in Haida Gwaii and the Yukon, the Duke hinted that he and his wife planned it that way.

“Catherine and I have asked to meet as many people from as many walks of life as we can while we’re here,” he said.

Later he gave kudos to the country as “wonderful place” and applauded Canada for “the great contributions it makes to peace, prosperity and human rights” on an international basis.

Earlier, Gov. Gen. Johnston, the first official to welcome the Royal Couple, referred to Canada’s 150th birthday coming up next year.

“Any celebration of Canada is by definition a celebration of the Crown,” Johnston said.

William later acknowledged Canadians for their fondness and support for his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, on the occasion of her 90th birthday and throughout her reign.

During the welcome speeches, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau received the loudest cheers of all, even bigger than the Duke and Duchess. He thanked them for introducing “our part of the world” to their children.

“Let me caution you from my own experience,” Trudeau added, “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.”

Clark reminded the visitors that the city is named for Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s “great-great-great-great-great grandmother.”

“That is five greats, and Queen Victoria certainly deserved five greats,” Clark said. “She was a strong, determined and resilient woman.”

The Royal Couple were whisked away after the roughly hour-long welcome event to Government House, where their children were waiting.

They are scheduled to be in Vancouver on Sunday then make a quick trip up to Bella Bella on the B.C. coast and back to Victoria on Monday.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

Where are Delta’s missing salmon?

Cougar Creek is seeing lower-than-usual returns of spawning salmon. The Blob may be the reason.

UPDATE: Suspect of interest ID’d after man shot near Surrey school

Police don’t know what motive was in shooting near Surrey-Delta border

VIDEO: MP details what gang and housing announcements mean for Surrey

Surrey Centre MP Randeep Sarai speaks about recent funding commitments

Double graves coming to Surrey civic cemeteries for the first time

Surrey council approves cemetery bylaw changes, which will also allow upright headstones

COLUMN: Cannabis legalization brings challenges for Canadian police

Delta Police Chief Neil Dubord talks about the challenges police face as pot becomes legal

VIDEO: ‘Glow Christmas’ opens for the holiday season

Massive Langley light show features 500,000 lights

First Nation plans to block Kinder Morgan pipeline

A “healing lodge” will be constructed in the path of Trans Mountain project

Last days for notorious homeless camp in Chilliwack River Valley

One local sports fisher frustrated by slow response from police and all levels of government

Fuel spill follows train derailment near Hell’s Gate

Empty grain train jumped the track after a landslide

BC Ferries vehicle traffic last summer was best ever

CEO says positive results reduce future pressure on fares

Dead rats on doorstep greets Summerland mayor

Two rodents have been delivered to Peter Waterman’s doorstep

False killer whale ‘Chester’ dies at Vancouver Aquarium

He was found stranded near Tofino in July 2014 and only had a 10 per cent chance of making it at the time

Cougar confronts man in Clearwater

Clearwater resident Barry Joneson had a close encounter of the cougar kind

Most Read