A hoarse voice from a head cold did not stop Prince Charles from delivering an impassioned plea to Canadians Tuesday to be “mindful of the wellbeing of all our grandchildren” and face head-on the “huge challenges” facing humanity, including climate change and the growing gap between rich and poor.

The Prince of Wales and his wife, Camilla, kicked off their second full day of their four-day visit to Canada with a stop at the legislature in Charlottetown, P.E.I.

The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall first observed a lively debate between more than a dozen members of a youth parliament group. The resolution called on Canadian youth to further the work started by the Fathers of Confederation. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference, which led to Confederation in 1867.

Following the debate, the Duke was presented with an honorary Symons Medal to mark his contribution to Canadian society.

The Prince of Wales delivered his speech, his second of the tour, in both English and French. After thanking his hosts for the award, he launched into a speech that warned of the “huge challenges” facing the world, including the growing gap between rich and poor, the need to grow opportunities for women and girls, climate change, the dangers of over-fishing and de-forestation, and the need to support fledgling pro-democracy movements where they exist.

“But as I have seen so often during my visits to Canada, we can overcome challenges when we bring together the drive and creativity of people willing to learn and to work together and to act,” he said.

Water, energy and food security are all “common needs” that the world’s population shares, he noted, and “finding a common purpose” to meet those needs is imperative.

“The health of nature’s life support systems, which are now under such threat, has a direct bearing upon the health and wellbeing of people,” he said.

While Prince Charles has long been an environmental advocate, he said those issues have come into sharper focus for him following the birth of his first grandchild, Prince George.

“It is all our grandchildren who will have to live with the very serious consequences of us believing today that we can simply carry on with business as usual as if nothing has changed,” he said.

After listening to the youth parliament debate, he said, he is confident that young Canadians are ready to take up the challenge.

Canada's future, he said, “is in capable and willing hands.”

Several dignitaries were on hand to greet the royal couple as they arrived in Winnipeg Tuesday evening, including Manitoba Lt.Gov. Philip S. Lee and Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger.

In Winnipeg, the Prince and Duchess are scheduled to tour a Winnie the Pooh gallery at a local museum, and Charles is to visit Assiniboine Park Zoo.

The Prince and Duchess arrived in Halifax on Sunday night and spent much of Monday in Nova Scotia before making their way to Charlottetown for Victoria Day celebrations, including fireworks.

Later Tuesday, Camilla visited a residential health-care centre for senior citizens, as well as the Immanuel Christian School.

Prince Charles’s schedule included a visit to Holland College, where students work on issues related to urban development and sustainability. The Prince also met members of the Canadian Institute of Forestry, which is developing a partnership with his own Duchy of Cornwall.

Prince Charles also toured new trails at Bonshaw Provincial Park.

During his speech earlier Tuesday, the Prince noted that he and his wife would be paying a visit to the P.E.I. community of Cornwall.

“As the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, we couldn’t possibly feel more at home,” he said. “It is a wonderful corner of Canada.”

With files from The Canadian Press

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