Prince Charles and his wife Camilla’s plane touched down under sunny skies in Fredericton Sunday for the beginning of a three-day, whirlwind visit to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
For Prince Charles, this is a homecoming of sorts, as he is visiting troops at CFB Gagetown Monday where he trained briefly as a young naval officer in 1975.
For Charles’ wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, this is her first time in the province.
The couple was most recently in Canada in 2009 – and the Prince was last in the province in 1996.
The Duchess commented on the warm weather to one of the dignitaries, who greeted her. She said it was much better here than back in Britain.
As did her daughter-in-law, Catherine, last year, Camilla arrived wearing a navy blue dress. The designer is Anna Valentine.
But this visit is certainly not attracting the same interest as did the younger Royals last year.
There are 500 accredited media, nine of whom are from Britain and 11 from the international press.
Compare this to the 1,400 journalists who covered Will and Catherine’s very move, including over 100 media from the United Kingdom.
This visit will take the couple from CFB Gagetown to Saint John,N.B. and then on to Ontario and Saskatchewan. It is all about service – the Queen’s service to country and individual acts of service by Canadians.
Sixty thousand Diamond Jubilee medals have been cast to award to deserving Canadians; about a dozen of the medals will be given out during the couple’s visit.
It was a beautiful evening as they departed the aircraft, greeted by federal Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield, who is the MP for Fredericton, and Lieutenant Governor Graydon Nicholas.
In anticipation of the couple’s arrival, some beautification had taken place outside the Fredericton airport. Striking PSAC workers, who have been off the job for the past 15 weeks, were nowhere in sight. Their portable toilet had also been removed.
Kaitlyn Tozer, 11, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2010, gave the Duchess a bouquet of flowers. Later, the little girl was too star struck to speak to journalists.
Sunday evening was considered an “administrative” welcome.
The official welcome to Canada takes place Monday in CFB Gagetown, the military base just outside of Fredericton, with Governor General David Johnston, his wife, Sharon, N.B. Premier David Alward and Heritage Minister James Moore.
The Prince will speak at this event, which also includes a 21-gun salute.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is really emphasizing the monarchy now that he has a majority mandate, will not meet up with the royal couple until Tuesday in Toronto. He is at the NATO Summit in Chicago.
However, the Prime Minister and Prince Charles will sit down for a face-to-face meeting on Wednesday. The topics of their conversation are not being disclosed.
The Governor General will also meet separately with the Prince.
NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, the Official Opposition leader, is not part of the official visit but he may be invited to an event, according to officials.