Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, embarked on the second day of a visit to Canada on Wednesday, with stops throughout the nation’s capital designed to recognize pressing issues, including the displacement of Ukrainians.
The royal tour is one of the ways that Canada is celebrating the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II this year, marking her 70th anniversary on the throne. The Queen is Canada’s longest-reigning sovereign and the first in England’s history to celebrate a platinum jubilee. She succeeded to the crown in 1952.
Charles and Camilla began their three-day visit in Newfoundland and Labrador on Tuesday. They spent Wednesday in the National Capital Region and are to head to the Northwest Territories on Thursday.
To begin the day in Ottawa, the Prince was invested as an Extraordinary Commander of the Order of Military Merit by Governor-General Mary Simon. The ceremony, held at Rideau Hall, also marked the 50th anniversary of the order, created in 1972 to recognize distinctive merit and exceptional service by the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Charles and Camilla also participated in a ceremony at the National War Memorial to honour Canadian veterans and active service members. A crowd gathered along Elgin Street in the city’s downtown core surrounding the Cenotaph.
The couple was later greeted by a small crowd outside the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Ottawa’s west end. Among the gathering of approximately 60 onlookers were people waving Ukrainian flags, the Maple Leaf and the Union Jack. Others, though, carried signs opposing the monarchy.
Wearing blue and yellow “stand with Ukraine” ribbons, Charles and Camilla were greeted by Yulia Kovaliv, the Ukrainian ambassador-designate to Canada. They then took part in a prayer with members of the Ukrainian community and met some of the groups helping Ukrainian refugees, plus a family displaced by the Russian invasion.
The invited guests at the event included fundraiser organizers and Olenka Reshitnyk-Bastian, with the Ottawa branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, who started a free store of donated goods for displaced Ukrainians.
The royal couple also stopped at the ByWard Market to meet with merchants, where a crowd of approximately 100 people gathered to greet them.
Later Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a bilateral meeting with the Prince at Rideau Hall. Charles spoke about the importance of sustainable finance to address climate change and to build a net-zero economy.
“What we do today fundamentally impacts the future of our children and grandchildren,” the Prince said. “We face a real emergency now, I think.”
During their visit, the royal couple has faced calls to request the Queen apologize for the legacy of residential schools, including one from Métis National Council President Cassidy Caron.
Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald also issued a statement on Wednesday evening following a Platinum Jubilee reception held at Rideau Hall with Charles and Camilla.
Ms. Archibald said she emphasized to the royal couple that there must be truth and reconciliation with First Nations people and there is a need for the Queen to acknowledge the Crown’s “ongoing failure to fulfil treaty agreements” and to apologize to survivors.
Charles has not publicly commented on calls for an apology. On Tuesday in St. John’s, he underscored the importance of coming to terms with “the darker and more difficult aspects of the past” while “reconciling and striving to do better.”
“It is a process that starts with listening,” he said. “My wife and I look forward to listening to you, and learning.”
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission spent six years studying the effects of Canada’s residential school system, which saw Indigenous children forcibly removed from their families and culture, before issuing 94 calls to action in 2015, including a call for a papal apology. It did not reference the need for an apology from the Royal Family.
When asked on Parliament Hill whether the Royal Family should apologize to Indigenous people, Mr. Trudeau said the trip is an opportunity to hear directly from Canadians, and that climate change and reconciliation are “key parts of their visit.” Charles will hear directly from Indigenous people, he said.
Commenting on the “embarrassingly short” length of the royal couple’s visit, John Fraser, the founding president of the Institute for the Study of the Crown in Canada, said that one of the reasons the government does not like prolonged trips by members of the Royal Family is because there is a tradition of Indigenous leaders petitioning the Crown dating back to long before Confederation.
With a report from The Canadian Press
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