Prince Charles and his wife Camilla have arrived in Halifax, N.S., where they are kicking off a whirlwind Canadian tour. The visit starts just in time for Victoria Day and the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference.

The four-day visit will start in Halifax and includes stops in Pictou, N.S., the P.E.I. communities of Charlottetown, Bonshaw and Cornwall and a final day in Winnipeg.

"Royal tours used to be these long, whistle-stop tours," royal historian Carolyn Harris said, pointing to Queen Elizabeth II's six-week, cross-Canada tour in 1959.

"Now that they are shorter and more focused visits, we get more frequent royal visits," Harris told CTV News Channel on Sunday.

Snapshot of Sunday's low-key welcome

  • Charles and Camilla were met by nearly two dozen dignitaries at Halifax Stanfield International Airport at around 6:30 p.m. local time. They included Justice Minister Peter MacKay, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil and Halifax Mayor Mike Savage.
  • The royal couple were presented with a bouquet of pink and white flowers from two N.S. sisters, Grace Elizabeth Lenihan, 3, and Molly Jane Lenihan, 9.
  • Camilla wore a cream and gold tweed coat, paired with black gloves and a black clutch bag given to her by a Canadian friend
  • Charles was sworn in to the Queen's Privy Council for Canada during a private ceremony.

Sunday's arrival marks Charles' first visit to the province since 1983 and the first for the Duchess of Cornwall.

Canada has seen four official visits by members of the Royal Family in four years. Queen Elizabeth II came in 2010, then-newlyweds Prince William and Kate in 2011, and Charles and Camilla in 2012.

Harris said the more Prince Charles visits Canada, the more Canadians will connect with the future monarch.

"(Prince Charles and Camilla's) image has enjoyed a transformation over the years," Harris said. "When they married in 2005, there were some questions whether Camilla would be accepted as Charles' partner, let alone as an accepted and respected member of the Royal Family."

While in Halifax, the couple is scheduled to meet with Lt.-Gov. J.J. Grant and attended a reception with the journalists who will shadow Charles and Camilla until their departure on Wednesday.

Charles' first of four planned speeches will take place Monday morning outside Halifax City Hall. Later in the day, Charles will visit the city's Public Gardens where he will plant an English oak tree -- a tradition started 75 years ago by his grandfather, King George VI.

The Nova Scotia leg of the tour will end Monday evening, when Charles and Camilla board an aircraft bound for Charlottetown. The P.E.I. capital is marking the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference, which eventually led to Confederation.

The couple also mark Victoria Day in Charlottetown, where they will take part in a celebration with fireworks and music.

Monarchist League of Canada Atlantic director Barry MacKenzie said it's become more common for a member of the Royal Family to visit Canada during the May holiday weekend, which marks the Queen's unofficial birthday.

"It's out of conscious effort in the last couple of years to really highlight Victoria Day and really remind Canadians that it is one of our most important national holidays," MacKenzie said.

While in Charlottetown on Tuesday, the couple will visit the legislature and attend a youth parliament debate. The Prince of Wales will also be honoured with a medal recognizing his contributions to Canada.

Charles and Camilla will tour the city's arts centre guided by an actress playing Anne of Green Gables before flying to Winnipeg, where they will meet with children and learn about another famous cultural export: Winnie the Pooh. Charles will also have the opportunity to feed a polar bear at a conservation facility in the Manitoba city -- the last stop of their visit.

With files from The Canadian Press