Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, Private Secretary to The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge about the tour of Canada

The first thing to say is just how much The Duke and Duchess are looking forward to their forthcoming Tour of Canada, and then travelling on briefly to California. The past two months have been a very significant time in their lives, and ending this period with a Tour of Canada – a country so close to the Royal Family’s heart – is truly fitting.

The Duke has had a genuine wish to go back to Canada for many years, and has been encouraging me – often pretty hard – to find an opportunity to do so. The Royal Couple are delighted that Canada will be their first Tour together, and the Canadians have put together an extremely welcoming and well-balanced programme of meaningful engagements, mixed with fun and lots of opportunities to get to know Canada and Canadians better.

Our Canadian colleagues have taken to heart the couple’s interests, and you can see this throughout the programme. There is a focus on Servicemen and women and their families, young people unlocking their potential, but for the most part their Tour will be a celebration of the diversity and vibrancy of Canada’s people and geography.

The Canada Tour starts and finishes with two very high-profile events: Canada Day, the national celebration of unity, with potentially hundreds of thousands in red and white on Parliament Hill in Ottawa; and finishing with the world-renowned festival of the Calgary Stampede.

In between, there is a kaleidoscope of activity:

•Montreal with its cuisine and international jazz festival;

•Quebec City, this great and historic place overlooking the St. Lawrence;

•Prince Edward Island, a stunningly picturesque Maritime Province;

•the North West Territories, in all its vastness and remoteness – including Yellowknife, a true frontier city with a hugely welcoming population.

•and Calgary in Alberta, and an introduction to Canada’s vast prairies and extractive industries, all framed by the mighty Rockies.

Now, if I may, the engagements in more detail:

The Royal Couple will arrive mid-afternoon by an Canadian Air Force jet – an offer kindly made by the Canadian Prime Minister.

On arrival, The Duke and Duchess will go straight from the airport to pay their respects at the Canadian cenotaph and tomb of the unknown warrior in central Ottawa – a monument of great dignity to those who have lost their lives in service of their country. The couple were keen for this to be their first act in Canada. Such memorials are always poignant, but particularly so right now as Canada’s combat role in Afghanistan is drawing to an end. Canada has lost, to date, 155 service personnel in Afghanistan, one of the highest for any ISAF ally. They have been fighting alongside British, Afghan forces, and US forces in Southern Afghanistan, focused on Kandahar, one of the most troubled cities and provinces. At the Cenotaph, the couple will lay the same wreath that The Prince of Wales laid during his Tour two years ago.

Following the wreath laying, the couple will attend their Official Welcome to Canada at the Governor-General’s Residence, Rideau Hall. Senior members of the Royal Family often receive an Official Welcome to country. This will take place at the Governor-General’s House and will include a parade and full Guard of Honour. The Duke will respond to the Welcome on behalf of the couple with a few words, and we anticipate crowds to have gathered to welcome them in the Residence’s grounds.

Later, in the early evening, the Governor-General will host an informal reception for young people from across Canada. The 120 Canadian young people have been invited by the Governor-General for their impact and contribution to the areas of voluntary service identified in the Royal Wedding Charitable Gift Fund.

On Friday 1st July – Canada Day – the couple will attend a Canadian Citizenship Ceremony at the Museum of Canadian Civilisation.

The event is a regular “swearing in” ceremony for new Canadians, which happens almost every day all over the country. However, traditionally on Canada Day, the Governor-General presides over one such ceremony, and it is to this that the Royal Couple will be going. There, the couple will witness around a dozen “new” Canadians of varying ages from different parts of the world becoming Canadian citizens. It aligns fully with the second theme of Canada Day this year, “citizenship”, and will be a colourful celebration with flags handed out by the Royal Couple to each new citizen and, no doubt, plenty of smiling families – a celebration of Canada’s diversity. The Royal Couple’s attendance is particularly apt as swearing-in ceremonies include a pledge of allegiance to Her Majesty The Queen of Canada.

This engagement will be followed by the Canada Day “Noon Show”. This is the main ceremonial moment of the Tour. The couple will join the Governor-General and his wife and travel by landau to Parliament Hill, the focal point for all of Canada’s national day celebrations. Attendees normally number in the hundreds of thousands, festooned in red and white, and celebrating their country. The Noon Day show includes music, pageantry and speeches. The Duke will say a few words, as will the Prime Minister. The three main themes of the celebrations this year are: support for the Armed Forces and their families; citizenship, and a celebration of Canada’s Great Outdoors, with the 100th Birthday of “Parks Canada”, the body which protects the National Parks.

As part of the celebrations, there will be anthems, a flypast by the Snowbirds and a link-up with Canadian Forces in Kandahar in Southern Afghanistan.

After the event has finished, there will be a break in the programme for Their Royal Highnesses to recharge and prepare for the Canada Day “Evening Show”.

Celebrations are in two parts. The Noon Show is the traditional and more ceremonial moment. In the evening, there is separate show with a real party spirit – with spectacular fireworks and a rock and pop concert which is broadcast nationwide. Their Royal Highnesses will drop into the “Evening Show” and enjoy the entertainment, before attending a private diplomatic reception elsewhere in the city from where they will watch the firework show.

This will complete a pretty full and exciting programme celebrating Canada’s National Day.

In the morning of Saturday 2nd July, Their Royal Highnnesses will follow a long-standing and noble tradition in Canada of planting a tree in the grounds of Rideau Hall, the Governor-General’s residence. Many Members of the Royal Family have done this, and we understand that the Canadians have selected a local species for the couple to plant – the Canadian hemlock, which traditionally lives for up to 500 years.

The next engagement is at the incredibly impressive and moving Canadian War Museum. The couple will first privately visit a sanctuary to the Unknown Warrior at the Museum. It was designed so that, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, a beam of light strikes a gravestone taken from the fields of Vimy. The Couple will have a moment for private reflection there.

The Couple will then join a reception for Canadian servicemen and their families from a range of campaigns in Canada’s modern military history: Afghanistan, the Balkans, Korea, and the Second World War. This takes place in a large open exhibition room of military vehicles, tanks, mobile units and so forth, from the various campaigns. Their Royal Highnesses will spend time with the veterans, including some injured servicemen, and unveil a new painting acquired by the Museum. They will then briefly tour the rest of the museum.

The couple will then board the Canadian Air Force Airbus for a short flight to Canada’s East Coast industrial powerhouse, Montreal. It is also known for its international flavour, great food, comedy, jazz and film festivals.

The first engagement in Montreal is the world-renowned Saint-Justine University Hospital Centre. This visit aims to highlight the work of one of the leading hospitals in the world specialising in children’s care. The hospital pioneers technology and new approaches to help children come into the world, and also in the treatment of children recovering from serious illnesses. The hospital takes a holistic approach, working with families as well as the children, stimulating their learning and keeping their minds active.

The couple are very keen to go to Saint-Justine, what with The Duke’s close links to the Royal Marsden Hospital here. And the way arts are used to stimulate the children was of particular interest to The Duchess, who has long held an interest in what is termed arts therapy.

Their Royal Highnesses will privately visit the neo-natal clinic where innovative methods have achieved miraculous results, spending time with a few families learning to care for their new born children. Finally, the Royal Couple will meet youngsters in the arts therapy room where carers encourage the children staying in the hospital to express themselves, learn and grow using hands-on arts and crafts. It will be a truly colourful, bright and uplifting visit.

The next engagement focuses on the couple’s shared interest in seeing young people unlock their potential. In this case, through a strength of the province of Quebec, at the L’Institute de Tourisme et d’hotellerie du Quebec.

This engagement celebrates one of Quebec’s tremendous assets: culinary arts and hospitality. The Institute trains young men and women for the catering and hospitality business all around the world. The graduates here are counted among the very best, and go on to join top hotels and restaurants.

Their Royal Highnesses will join the students in a tutorial in a working kitchen, learning to prepare a few dishes, putting on an apron, and rolling their sleeves up. They will then join a reception with the students. Then, the Premier of Quebec and his wife will join the Royal Couple over a private dinner to enjoy what the students and they have cooked.

That evening, Their Royal Highnesses will be piped aboard a Canadian frigate, HMCS Montreal, and travel up the St. Lawrence river to Quebec City. As it happens, by sheer coincidence, there will be an international fireworks competition very close-by as the Ship sets sail from Montreal quayside.

Arrival in Quebec on Sunday 3rd July will be spectacular as the naval vessel draws up beneath the walled city of old Quebec. Quebec City is a gem. A truly north American city, its heart plucked straight from late mediaeval France.

The first engagement of the day will be Morning Prayers, on the helicopter deck of the Montreal, with the Ship’s Company. We expect that clergy from the City will join the company on the ship.

Their Royal Highnesses will then depart for a terrific youth project in the city. Many of you will remember the engagement in Redfearn in Sydney last year. It will be in a similar vein, getting to appreciate some of the real issues facing young people in Canada’s cities – and of course it allies closely with The Duke’s ongoing support for charities that look after vulnerable young people here in the United Kingdom.

The next stop in Quebec City is to celebrate the Royal 22nd Regiment of Canada, the legendary “Vingt Douze”. The couple will observe a military ceremony in honour of the Regiment. The Regiment is a renowned and much respected component of Canada’s history and fighting forces, and the couple feel very privileged to attend this event.

The final engagement is a hop by helicopter into a lively community event with barbecues and fun stalls, the attendees still in full flush of Canada’s National Day on 1st July. This will be an opportunity for Their Royal Highnesses to meet Quebecois and experience again the diversity and vibrancy of this extraordinary part of Canada.

We will say more about all three of these engagements nearer the time.

It is then a short flight to Prince Edward Island, the most easterly point of the Tour and an introduction for the couple to Canada’s Maritime provinces. The Canadian Government anticipates that P.E.I. (as it is known) may be a focal point for many well wishers from across the Maritimes. P.E.I. is a terrifically welcoming place, and is well known as the home of the Anne of Green Gables. More importantly, P.E.I. also has an important place in the history of Canada, as it was where the Confederation of Canada’s provinces was signed in 1864.

On arrival in PEI, we hope the couple will join you and some Canadian media for informal, off-the-record drinks in Charlottetown. Mig will give you further details.

On Monday morning, 4th July, the couple will arrive at Province House at one end of Great George Street, the historic street in Charlottetown. The couple will meet the Premier and learn about the important place Province House has in Canadian history. It was here that representatives of the Provinces came together to form the Dominion of Canada. The couple will see the historic rooms and then meet – and be photographed with – the “Founding Fathers” and children, who will be in period costume.

The Duke will respond to some remarks by the Premier with a few words of his own. We anticipate there may be well wishers lining the route to the harbour, where the couple will travel in an open-top vehicle – probably a carriage. It’s a journey of about half a mile. At the harbour, they will watch a few moments of a short play. Following this lively finale, they will then depart for Dalvay-by-the-Sea, where they will attend a cultural event.

The beachside resort of Dalvay-by-the-Sea is a holiday destination with picket fences, large wooden houses with verandas, red barns, and green grass. It was used as a backdrop, reportedly, for some television adaptations of the Anne of Green Gables stories.

While Great George Street celebrated the past and heritage of Canada, the Dalvay engagement is very much a community event with plenty of colour, showing off the Island’s diversity.

First at Dalvay, The Duke will participate in a Canadian Air Force demonstration at a nearby lake. The Canadian Search and Rescue Force is the only one in the world to undertake “Waterbirding”, a technique whereby a Sea King helicopter makes a controlled landing on water. The Sea King, which operates below 500 feet or in a hover when conducting anti-submarine warfare or in search and rescue operations, does not always have a safe landing site should an emergency occur; the closest ship or land could be miles away. In the event of engine failure, a controlled landing on the water may be the only option. The Duke will take part as aircrew in a demonstration in a Sea King helicopter, undertaking a Waterbirding exercise at Dalvay.

Their Royal Highnesses will then team up with Dragonboat racers, taking a boat each – although I hasten to add, not themselves paddling, though probably steering – and they will race across the lake to the opposite bank where crowds will be gathered. After congratulating the winning team, the couple will be welcomed by First Nations people with a traditional “smudging” ceremony. They will then go on a walkabout, enjoying different types of music from the Maritimes, including Arcadian (with its roots in French music), Celtic and First Nations. We hope there will also be a chance for the couple to taste a couple of local delicacies, which might include raspberry cordial, chocolate covered potato crisps and P.E.I.’s famous lobster...

The end of the engagement is on the dunes of the beach. Young people will be engaged in a range of beach sports, and the couple will start one of the games and present prizes to the winners of various competitions.

The next and last engagement on Prince Edward Island is at Summerside, where the couple will join an event with the Canadian Force’s Search and Rescue Force. They will board a Coastguard vessel at the harbour, chat with serving officers and some of their familes, and meet people who have been rescued by the Search and Rescue crews. A helicopter crew will then do a short demonstration in the harbour, also entertaining crowds which will have gathered around the bay.

As you might remember, Canadian Search and Rescue was one of the recipients of the Wedding Gift Fund. The Duke and Duchess are delighted to include this element in the programme. Also, the Canadian Equerry for the Tour, Captain Jean Leroux, is a serving Search and Rescue pilot.

The couple will then depart from Summerside airport, a short-drive away. The next location, the North West Territories is the longest flight on the trip. This is the only big hop the couple will do. They will arrive quite late in the evening, but it will be light as we are heading “60 above” in latitude and it is likely that the sun will not set at all while we are there.

Tuesday 5th July begins with a wonderfully colourful engagement by the lake in North West Territories capital, Yellowknife. This is the opportunity to meet the people who may have travelled great distances to welcome the couple, and, once again, to get to know a little better how different and fascinating the great North can be. It was very much the couple’s wish to experience this part of the world.

The location is in the centre of the city next to a lake. NWT is famous for its thousands of inland lakes. There will be a welcome by First Nation peoples, and a few words to the crowd from the Premier and The Duke. During a walkabout, there will be demonstrations of Arctic Sports.

After a walkabout, they join the Premier, a former ice hockey player of some standing – for a game of “shinny” or street hockey. The Duke and Duchess will take part in some way – perhaps dropping or shooting a few penalties.

Following the shinny game, it’s then a short drive to the Provincial Legislative Assembly for discussions with the Province’s Youth Parliament. The building is modern and impressive, and it was opened by The Queen on the last official Royal Tour that took in the North West Territories, in 1994. In the centre of the open and light-wood chamber, reminiscent in design of an igloo, lies a large polar bear skin. The polar bear is the symbol of N.W.T. The young people will be having a debate about issues which matter to them, and the couple will be invited to join them, listen and ask questions.

Their Royal Highnesses will then attend a short reception with senior members of the Legislative Assembly. A few words will be said before departure.

The final engagement in this frontier Province is to bounce out into the real wilderness. Exploring Canada’s Great Outdoors was something the couple really wanted to do, and a visit to N.W.T. provides an unparalleled opportunity to do this. It is an extraordinary landscape on the edge of the tundra and the tree-line, peppered with thousands of freshwater lakes.

The couple will have an opportunity to do something else close to their hearts. The Duchess has a very strong interest in crafts and traditional arts and The Duke, you’ll remember from his recent visits to Australia and New Zealand, has an interest in understanding more about indigenous peoples, or First Peoples as they are known in Canada.

For this last engagement in the North West Territories, Their Royal Highnesses will go to an island about 30 minutes by air, east of Yellowknife. There will be two components here.

First, having arrived by Float Plane, the couple will meet volunteers and officers from the Canadian Rangers and Young Canadian Rangers. These hardy people explore, survey and protect the wilderness. They will demonstrate their military kit, how they camp and survive on patrol, and invite the couple to join them around the fire for some tea and “bannock”. There might be some traditional singing from the younger Rangers, too. You might recall that The Duke and his brother Prince Harry were made honorary Rangers during The Prince of Wales’s Tour in 2009, so this serial will be a particular honour and pleasure for The Duke.

The couple will then go to Blachford Lodge, a house built over a number of years on the island which serves as a retreat with modern facilities in the wilderness for tourists. It is also used as a base by De’Chinta, an educational organisation which brings together young people from across the Territories to teach and practice traditional arts and techniques such as preparing hides and skins, needlecraft and story telling. The couple will meet two women about the couple’s age, who run this programme. Their guides will introduce them to students learning local indigenous languages, and then move outside, where the couple will see hides being prepared for clothing and fish being smoked. At the end of the tour, the couple will join a campfire discussion with the young people about what it’s like to live in the Territories and learn how and why they have come to De’Chinta.

Finally in early evening (but with the sun barely dipping), the couple will take a canoe to a nearby island for a private barbecue with the De’Chinta team.

On Wednesday 6th July, following seven quite intensive days, the couple will transfer to Alberta province and there take some private time for 24 hours. The rest of the delegation will travel directly to Calgary.

Alberta and Calgary is very much Canada’s West, where the prairies meet the mountains. It is cowboy country – quite literally. The shiny high-rise City of Calgary will be preparing for its world-renowned Stampede, a kind of festival of the prairies through rodeo, music and the arts. Jeans, boots and cowboy hats will be out in force. It is another thrilling example of Canada’s diversity and vibrancy and will be a tremendous experience for the couple.

On arrival in Calgary on Thursday 7th July, Their Royal Highnesses will be “white-hatted”, a tradition which sees the provincial government presenting them with white cowboy hats.

But there is more to Calgary than the Stampede. The couple will first visit a teaching hospital under the auspices of the University of Alberta, where they will tour the Ward of the 21st Century Research and Innovation Centre. This centre pioneers new techniques and technology to improve patient care and training for medical staff.

The couple will meet– and get to treat “STAN”. STAN is a whacky but cutting-edge learning tool for doctors and nurses. Through computers and medical staff, Stan is a patient in bed who recreates the symptoms, conditions and complaints of a patient, meaning that the staff can respond in real time and be tested under pressure. The couple will also see some of the other technological advances the Ward is pioneering.

Later that evening, the Couple will join a reception hosted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mrs Harper at the main Stampede exhibition centre. In the courtyard outside, there will be an opportunity for Their Royal Highnesses to see a little of what the Stampede has to offer. The Duke will throw a “stove” into a “chuck wagon”, the traditional way to start one of the Stampede’s races. There will be a demonstration of bull riding, lasso-ing, and a welcome from First Nations peoples. A wonderfully colourful event.

Inside, the couple will join a large reception, and here the Prime Minister will invite The Duke to say a few words – his last in Canada.

Friday 8th July is an early start and the last day in Canada. The Stampede officially begins each year with a parade through the centre of the city. This is an exciting and colourful event which has a long history, with many Albertans lining the route. It is broadcast nationally in Canada. The Duke and Duchess will join up with the Honorary Parade Marshall, Rick Hansen, a legendary Canadian figure who has raised funds and profile for Spinal Injury charities through his own foundation and a tour of the world in his wheelchair. The couple will travel along the length of the route with Mr. Hansen before officially starting the Parade. They will then join guests of the Stampede to watch some of the wagons and floats roll by.

The penultimate engagement in Canada is hosted by Alberta’s Premier at Calgary Zoo. This is a reception in which the Premier will highlight some of the other high-tech research, particularly in the field of protecting the environment, taking place in the province. The Premier will say a few words.

Mirroring the Official Welcome in Ottawa just over a week before, an Official Farewell will be hosted by the Governor-General at a recently refurbished sports facility outside the city. This will involve a parade and military honours. The Duke and Duchess may also lay flowers at a tribute for Canadian Forces, a mural which is touring Canada and includes portraits of those who have died on active service in Afghanistan.

This will round off a tremendously exciting and varied programme in Canada, which The Royal Couple feel is an incredible opportunity to get to know Canada better, and start to build real and long-lasting relationships. As they wanted, the programme builds heavily on their existing interests, but also introduces them to the diversity and vibrancy of Canada.

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