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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are saluted by a RCMP as they arrive in Yellowknife, N.T. during their tour of Canada on Monday July 4, 2011. (JONATHAN HAYWARD/JONATHAN HAYWARD/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are saluted by a RCMP as they arrive in Yellowknife, N.T. during their tour of Canada on Monday July 4, 2011. (JONATHAN HAYWARD/JONATHAN HAYWARD/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Royals touch down in Yellowknife for northernmost part of nine-day tour Add to ...

At the end of a long line of dignitaries stood Marco Esteban and Amelie Wood, both eight years old. Their task was simple enough, but daunting - hand William and Kate flowers, welcoming them to Canada's North.

Marco, dressed by his mother in traditional Filipino formal wear, was under strict orders - be on his best behaviour. Amelie, meanwhile, was excited to meet the Duchess.

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"She was nice," the young girl said afterwards.

Prince William and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, arrived just after 7:30 p.m. in Yellowknife, the Northwest Territories capital that is the second-last stop of the Royal Tour. The Prince's flag was hung out of the cockpit as the plane pulled up. They held their own umbrellas as they were greeted by dignitaries, including Premier Floyd Roland. Having flown from Prince Edward Island, they left immediately after accepting the children's flowers, retiring for the night to a local hotel.

Several dozen people gathered at the airport to welcome the Royal Couple. They were kept well away, as the Duke and Duchess didn't go meet members of the public Monday evening.

"This really is a once-in-a-lifetime thing," said Mikelle Wile, 16, a Yellowknife resident who came to the airport to see the plane land. "I really loved watching them on TV in all the other places and how they really take time to talk to the people. They run behind schedule because they're shaking hands, so I thought it'd really be cool to be a part of that."

Bernadette Christie drove up from Grande Prairie, Alta., (about 13 hours away) to see the Royals. Wearing a shirt with a photo taken from the Duke and Duchess's wedding, and watched the landing at the airport.

"I saw him out the window and I just cried and it was over too fast," she lamented. "I will be shaking their hand tomorrow. Trust me. I've already staked my spot out."

The royals have a full slate scheduled for Tuesday, their only full public day. The performances are meant to demonstrate the aboriginal heritage of the vast territory, and will include arctic sports, a shinny hockey game, traditional Dene games and a drumming group from Paulatuk, a coastal town on the northern edge of the NWT.

Government staff are sure the performers aren't fully aware of the madness that awaits them Tuesday - one asked whether there would be a photographer. (About 1,300 journalists are accredited during the trip, and dozens are expected to cover the Yellowknife leg).

"When they see all the cameras and people surrounding them, they might get nervous," says Bobby Drygreese, a local tour operator who runs a Dene hand games youth group that will perform. The game is a traditional gambling game, in which teams guess which hand an opponent is hiding in while the other team drums and chants.

"It's not that hard. That's what I keep telling these kids - we'll just play, and whoever shows up, shows up," Mr. Drygeese said.

The territory is hoping the trip will spark interest in its tourism industry.

"By the sounds of it, people are pretty excited," said Leroy Betsina, 36, who also helps run the hand games programs in a pair of Dene communities near Yellowknife. "Not every day the Royals come to the North."

Follow on Twitter: @josh_wingrove

 

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