Royal visit: Latest updates
- Dignitaries, schoolchildren and a brass band playing Great Big Sea’s Ordinary Day welcomed Charles, Prince of Wales, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, to St. John’s on Tuesday afternoon, their first stop on a three-day royal tour of Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came to take part in the welcoming ceremony.
- One of the themes of this visit is Indigenous reconciliation, which Charles called a “vital process” in a speech in St. John’s, adding that he and Camilla were eager to learn about Canada’s past “openly and honestly.” Ahead of the visit, some First Nations and Métis leaders say it should be a time for the Royal Family to consider a formal acknowledgement of colonization’s impacts, such as reparations to residential-school survivors.
- Back in London, the 96-year-old Queen Elizabeth II – whose public appearances have been intermittent recently due to mobility problems – made a surprise visit to Paddington station on Tuesday to open a new subway line. This year, the Queen marks her 70th year on the throne; Charles and Camilla’s Canadian visit is part of Platinum Jubilee celebrations in Commonwealth realms around the world.
Charles and Camilla’s itinerary in St. John’s
Tuesday’s events include a welcoming ceremony with Indigenous performances, a Guard of Honour inspection and a speech from Charles. At Government House, they’ll meet with Indigenous leaders, lay a marker inaugurating a local Platinum Jubilee project and be presented with wool sculptures of Charles and the Queen by representatives from Campaign for Wool Canada, a group launched on a previous royal visit in 2014. Later, Charles and Camilla will visit Quidi Vidi harbour.
The royal couple’s next stops in Canada
- May 18: In Ottawa, the Prince and Duchess will join Governor-General Mary Simon for a service at the National War Memorial and meet Ukrainian community groups for prayers. They will hold a youth-literacy event at a local school, take in a performance of the RCMP Musical Ride, speak at a climate-change roundtable and spend the evening at a reception with Ms. Simon at Rideau Hall.
- May 19: Charles and Camilla head to Yellowknife and Dettah, NWT. The Duchess will go to a local school and a transitional housing centre for women fleeing intimate partner violence. Charles will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Canadian Rangers and be made an honorary member of the group; tour the Dettah Ice Road; and speak about climate change with Dene people. Then the royal couple will go to the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre to learn about Treaty 11, see demonstrations of Indigenous sports and crafts and meet local food producers.
Backstory on the royal visit
This February, the 96-year-old Queen reached 70 years on the throne, and public institutions in Britain, Canada and other Commonwealth realms are pulling out all the stops to celebrate. May is a propitious month for the royal visit: Victoria Day, May 23, is the sovereign’s official birthday in Canada, which Britons observe on June 11 this year. (Countries where the monarch is head of state celebrate their birthdays on legislated dates so the statutory holidays are consistent, no matter who reigns. The Queen’s actual date of birth is April 21, 1926.)
The celebrations will cap a rocky year for the Queen’s physical and emotional health. It was the first anniversary of the death of her husband, Prince Philip, whose memorial service in March was the Queen’s first public appearance in months. She contracted COVID-19 in February, was hospitalized a few months earlier for medical tests and cited “episodic mobility problems” when she skipped May 10′s state opening of the British Parliament, where Charles spoke in her place.
William and Catherine’s Caribbean tour
The Canadian visit was announced weeks after a Platinum Jubilee tour of the Caribbean by Charles’s eldest son, William, and his wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Through eight days in Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas, the Cambridges were met by protests demanding British reparations for slavery and criticism of how they re-enacted elements of the Queen’s royal tours of the 1950s and 1960s, when Caribbean nations were barely or not yet independent.
In Jamaica, Prime Minister Andrew Holness told them the country intends to sever its connection to the Crown as Barbados did late last year. Later, in the Bahamas, William said the monarchy would respect any country’s decision about its future: “relationships evolve. Friendship endures.”
The Prince Andrew affair
Active members of the Royal Family have been busy with Platinum Jubilee events this spring, but one person you won’t see with them is Prince Andrew, the Queen’s second-eldest son.
In February he settled a lawsuit with Virginia Giuffre, an American who said he had sexual abused her when she was a teenager. She said they were introduced in 2001 by Jeffrey Epstein, a sex offender who died by suicide in 2019 awaiting trial on trafficking charges. Andrew backed away from public royal duties soon after Mr. Epstein’s death, and many Canadian groups removed him as their patron. This past January the Queen took further steps to strip Andrew of military affiliations, royal patronages and the title “His Royal Highness.”
The last time Charles and Camilla came to Ottawa was for the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, which many Indigenous people refused to celebrate, or chose to protest, to oppose the legacy of colonialism in Canada. This time, the royal couple will be standing beside Ms. Simon, an Inuk and the first-ever Indigenous governor-general. In April, she called called the tour “a chance for us to showcase the evolution of our country, our diverse and inclusive society, as well as the resilience of Indigenous communities.”
Prince Charles has visited the Arctic several times: On his debut Canadian tour in 1970, he took part in the first royal visit to Iqaluit with his parents, sister and then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau. He and Camilla have made only one joint trip to the North before this, in 2017, when they were criticized for disrespect after giggling during an Inuit throat-singing contest in Iqaluit.
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Compiled by Globe staff
With reports from Greg Mercer, The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and Reuters