Two months after they tie the knot at Westminster Abbey, Prince William and Kate Middleton will be celebrating Canada Day in Ottawa as part of a whirlwind tour of this country.
It will be the first overseas trip as a married couple for the pair, who are set to be wed April 29.
The tour by the future heir to the throne and his bride will take place June 30 to July 8 and will cross Canada, including a stop in the Arctic.
Canadian taxpayers will end up footing the bill for the trip, although the costs will be split between Ottawa and the provinces and territories being visited. Federal officials would not estimate the cost, saying the final bill will be released afterward.
The prince and Ms. Middleton will make stops in Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Ottawa's National Capital Region, the Prime Minister's Office announced Wednesday.
The Canadian government has not officially released the exact schedule or the cities and towns being visited, saying negotiations with Buckingham Palace are not complete.
Speculation is the pair might end their tour with a visit to the Calgary Stampede but the Prime Minister's Office won't confirm this. The trip ends in Alberta on July 8, the first day of the Stampede.
Matthew Rowe, a spokesman for the Monarchist League of Canada, said this first tour will allow the pair to hone their royal visit skills.
"This is going to be their job for the rest of their lives so they want to get it right," he said.
He speculated the pair might find themselves lodging for a night at Alberta's Banff Springs Hotel and said a Stampede visit would be a nice touch. "What's more Canadian than seeing our future king and queen in cowboy hats?"
Mr. Harper said he called the couple's decision to visit Canada first a "testament to our country's very close relationship with the Royal Family," saying it was this "bond of loyalty and affection" that was demonstrated by the sizeable crowds that turned out for the Queen and Prince Phillip last year.
Federal Heritage Minister James Moore played down any risk the royal visit could be marred by anti-monarchist sentiment in provinces such as Quebec.
"I am confident that Canadian hospitality extends from coast to coast: in the province of Quebec and all points in between," the minister said.
Mr. Moore said Ottawa's share of the royal visit will be bankrolled from a fund within the Heritage Department budget set aside for special visits.
He said the tour will be respectful "in every context ... of a young couple who's just been married, respectful of the heir to the throne, respectful of taxpayers and respectful of audiences who want to show their best wishes for the married couple."
Media reports said a 2009 visit by Prince Charles and Camilla cost Canadian taxpayers an estimated $2.6-million.
The minister predicted the April 29 royal wedding will fuel Canadian interest in the visit, saying the ceremony is the first of the same magnitude since Diana Spencer married Prince Charles in 1981.
"Not for almost 30 years has a royal wedding had this much attention drawn to it."
The prince and Ms. Middleton will be in Ottawa on Canada Day, July 1, to celebrate the national holiday with other Canadians.
"Canada looks forward to welcoming the young couple this summer and providing them with all that our country has to offer - including, of course, the special hospitality and warmth reserved for members of the Royal Family," Mr. Harper said.
"It is my sincere hope that their tour will be the start of a lasting relationship with Canada by the Royal Couple."
The couple's decision to skip the country's largest city elicited disappointment - and hopes for a future visit - among Toronto and tourism officials.
"It's unfortunate that they've chosen not to come to Toronto and we would welcome them the next time they choose to visit our country," said Adrienne Batra, press secretary for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
Andrew Weir, vice-president of communications for Tourism Toronto, said "something has to get missed" in such a short visit.
"Now they'll just have to come back," he said in an e-mail.
With a report from Jill MahoneyReport Typo/Error