Royal couple touches down in Yellowknife
Published Monday, July 4, 2011 9:55PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 5:15AM EDT
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge touched down in Yellowknife late Monday after a big day in Canada's smallest province, which gave them a mix of history, culture and adventure under overcast skies in Prince Edward Island.
A couple of hundred spectators greeted Prince William and Kate at Yellowknife Airport, which was plagued by rain for much of the day.
The couple will enjoy more hands-on activities during their visit to the north, including taking part in a game of street hockey with local youths. They will also attend a session of Youth Parliament before travelling by float plane to Blachford Lake, where they will meet with local students and elders.
On Wednesday morning, William and Kate will head off on a day-long private retreat.
Their arrival in Yellowknife capped off a busy day in P.E.I., where the day's events included a dragon boat race, traditional dance performances and a sampling of some of the region's delicacies.
But the day's most thrilling moment came earlier, when William's request to pilot a military helicopter was granted and he got to try out a made-in-Canada water landing manoeuvre.
William, who co-pilots a British Sea King as part of the British military's Search and Rescue Force, donned a flight suit and stepped into the co-pilot's chair of a CH124 Sea King helicopter for a demonstration of "waterbirding." It's a made-in-Canada training manoeuvre designed to simulate an emergency landing over water following an engine failure.
William helped pilot the dual-engine chopper to about 40 feet above the surface of the water, land on the water in a slightly nose-up position, and taxi for a number of minutes along the surface of the water. He then helped fire up the chopper's engines and take to the skies, and then do it all again. And again.
Considering the number of times William and the crew repeated the manoeuvre, it would seem the prince enjoyed getting the hang of it. Kate, meanwhile, watched from the shore dressed in a navy trench and red scarf, and chatted with military officials.
William's official spokesperson said the duke will bring what he learned back to his unit in the U.K.
"When (William) took the decision to come to Canada, one of the things he actually asked to do was to do this, and it's a technique he'll be able to use in his job," said press secretary Miguel Head.
It was an exciting, hands-on moment for the prince that followed a more traditional royal-visit morning of carriage rides and historical visits. The couple began the morning visiting Province House, the birthplace of Confederation.
As she's done a number of times on this official visit, Kate chose to wear a U.K. label for the events. She went with a long-sleeved cream, cable knit dress with navy blue trim designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen. It was Burton, of course, who famously designed Kate's showstopping wedding dress. The Prince wore a navy suit and rose-coloured tie.
Williams praises ‘beautiful island'
After taking a tour of the site known for hosting the Charlottetown Conference some 146 years ago, they posed for photos with actors dressed as the Fathers of Confederation.
P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz took to a podium to offer an official welcome -- finishing off by throwing in some marital advice for Prince William. Ghiz, whose wife's name is also Kate, reminded the prince to remember that "the Kates are always right." Duchess Kate laughed, while William offered a shy smile.
William then stepped forward to thank the province's leadership for "their generous welcome."
"It is quite the moment for Catherine and me to be standing here in Atlantic Canada, in front of Province House, where Canadian Confederation was forged," he said. "...We have both so looked forward to this day and discovering more about your beautiful island."
Before leaving the site, the couple took part in a walk-about in the mist, greeting some of the thousands of Islanders and tourists who had gathered outside to cheer and wave Canadian flags.
Canada AM's Jeff Hutcheson reported there appeared to be only one protester in the crowd: a man carrying a small sign that read: "You are not my prince." But Hutcheson said a woman stepped in front of him and opened a large, black umbrella.
After the walk-about, the couple retraced the steps of the Fathers of Confederation by proceeding down Great George St. in an open-air landau with an RCMP mounted escort, to the city's waterfront.
At Confederation Landing, they watched a musical theatre performance of "The Talking Stick," which tells First Nations' stories from across the country.
Early Monday afternoon, the couple competed in a dragon boat race in Dalvay-by-the-Sea, crewing separate boats for a match on the windy ocean waters off P.E.I.
Though William won the match, both he and the Duchess emerged from the water soaked by paddle spray.
After the race, the couple was treated to a traditional smudging ceremony, traditional Mi'kmaq drumming and an Acadian dance performance.
They then hit the beach to watch a bit of volleyball and then meet with local chefs to sample P.E.I.'s cuisine.
William and Kate sampled some of the province's most famous exports, including beef with sweet onion marmalade, lobster and potato chowder, and strawberry shortcake.
The couple then boarded another Sea King for the quick ride to Summerside, where they were greeted by search and rescue pilots, as well as survivors of rescue missions. While in Summerside, the couple watched a search-and-rescue demonstration and shook hands with well-wishers who were waiting for them at the pier.
Notably absent from the itinerary was a visit to Green Gables House, the tourist destination that inspired the setting for L.M. Montgomery's beloved tale, "Anne of Green Gables."
For weeks, rumours had swirled that a visit to the site seemed likely to play a part in the royal visit, since it's been said that Kate loves the classic tale of the red-haired orphan.
Instead, William and Kate did meet with Tess Benger, who plays the title role in "Anne of Green Gables -- The Musical." Benger, wearing her Anne costume, complete with red braids, presented Kate with a copy of the book. According to Benger, the duchess told her she would read the book again.
"She said that she totally wished that she could see the show, but that they don't have time and to break a leg on the show," Benger said.
"They're really lovely, really wonderful people ... it was really exciting."
On Thursday, William and Kate head to Calgary, the final stop on their nine-day tour, where they will officially launch the Calgary Stampede parade.
With reports from The Canadian Press