Excited royal watchers greeted Prince William and Catherine in Yellowknife Tuesday, hours after it was announced the couple will delay a personal retreat in order to travel to fire-ravaged Slave Lake.

William was clad in a dark suit and Catherine in a light-beige dress for another busy day of events under sunny skies.

The royal couple's day started with a prayer and welcome song from a group of Dene drummers, followed by a display of traditional Aboriginal hand games and the Arctic sport of high kick.

In a brief speech, William thanked "all of you who have travelled great distances to join us today. Catherine and I are deeply honoured."

"It's great to be north of 60," he said, against the backdrop of Yellowknife's Frame Lake.

"This place is what Canada is all about -- vast, open beauty, tough, resilient, friendly peoples, true nature, true humanity."

William capped off his speech with a thank you in Dene and Inuvialuktun, which drew cheers.

As they have during previous stops on their nine-day Canadian trip, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge took time to greet excited spectators.

Later, the royal couple was treated to a street hockey game, for which Catherine dropped the ball during a ceremonial faceoff.

While his bride did not try her hand at the game, William delighted the crowd by taking three shots on net. He failed to score.

"I tried giving him one," Calvin Lomen, 20, from Fort Liard, N.W.T., told The Canadian Press. "He said, 'Please let the ball go into the net.' But it hit my stick instead and I wound up saving it.

"He looked like he knew what he was doing. I heard him say he doesn't know how to play, but it seemed like he had a natural talent if he practised more."

William and Catherine also observed a Youth Parliament session before travelling by float plane to Blachford Lake, to meet with Canadian Rangers and visit with Dechinta students and elders.

The couple helped tan moose skins on the island and enjoyed a canoe ride.

Word also came down early Tuesday that the couple will delay the start of a day-long private retreat Wednesday by flying to wildfire-ravaged Slave Lake on Wednesday morning.

William and Catherine will spend about two hours meeting with residents affected by this spring's disastrous fire. They will also meet with firefighters and other emergency services personnel and tour devastated neighbourhoods. They will then go on a day-long retreat before ending their nine-day Canadian tour in Calgary.

Kevin MacLeod, who serves as Canadian secretary to the Queen, told The Canadian Press William and Catherine have been following the news of flooding in Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta "for several months," and had hoped to visit with local residents and rescue crews.

"They expressed a desire to go into Slave Lake and meet with the rescue workers, to meet with the families, and see first-hand the devastation that has affected that community and ... wish them well as they go about reconstructing their lives and their community," MacLeod said.

According to MacLeod, the decision to travel to Slave Lake was not taken last-minute. The announcement was held off so as not to distract attention from the reconstruction efforts.

The newlyweds touched down in the Northwest Territories on Monday night, where they were greeted by greeted by Premier Floyd Roland, federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq and hundreds of well-wishers who gathered near the airport despite the rainy weather.

In remarks Tuesday, Roland joked about ensuring the sun came out for the royal couple's first full day in the north.

"We have made every effort to mark your visit today with a full representation of our territory's finest," Roland said. "We even called on some powerful people to change the weather for us from yesterday's arrival.

"During your visit, I hope you will feel welcome enough not to just observe our territory, but to experience it and partake in all the adventure that it holds and, above all, to feel you are amongst friends."

While the city hadn't prepared an extravagant ceremony to welcome the couple, workers have been busy tidying up garbage and touching up paint -- part of an effort to make sure the estimated $1 million-worth of global publicity that comes with the media spotlight is put to good use.

Residents who spoke to CTV said they could definitely see the value of welcoming such high-profile international guests.

"People so famous coming here -- it never happens," a young man working as part of a cleanup crew told CTV.

However, his impression may not be quite accurate, especially when it comes to the House of Windsor.

The British Royal Family has a generations-old history of visiting Yellowknife. Queen Elizabeth, the prince's grandmother, visited the city in 1959, 1970 and 1994. Her son Charles, William's father, visited in 1979, and Charles' brother Andrew came with Duchess Sarah Ferguson in 1987. Prince Andrew is reportedly returning to the area later this summer on a personal vacation.

William and Catherine's arrival in the Canadian north capped off a jam-packed day in Prince Edward Island on Monday, where the couple raced dragon boats and William piloted a Sea King helicopter.

With files from The Canadian Press and a report by CTV's Janet Dirks