Published June 21, 2011
LONDON – It sounds a bit like a second honeymoon: campfires, a canoe trip in the wilderness, a full day free of any responsibilities, and a chance to see Canada in its full summer glory.
But it will be a working trip for Prince William and the former Kate Middleton — filled with charity events, speeches, the laying of wreaths and military displays — as they make their first overseas state visit as man and wife.
They will see much of Canada on an eight-day voyage to celebrate Commonwealth ties, then zip to Los Angeles, where many of the world's leading gossip columnists, fashion critics and Hollywood know-it-alls will pretend they are not star-struck by the young royals.
"This will be perhaps the largest, most-watched royal visit in Canada's history," Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore said. "We do expect a record number of Canadians to come out to the public events."
Royal officials Tuesday released details about the trip, which begins when the couple arrive in Ottawa June 30, one day before they will join in the national celebration of Canada Day.
"The Canadians have put together an extremely welcoming and well-balanced program of meaningful engagements, mixed with fun and lots of opportunities to get to know Canada and Canadians better," said Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, the couple's private secretary.
Middleton is not planning to speak at any public events. Royal handlers want her to learn to cope with the overwhelming press interest in her every move.
William plans to demonstrate his skills as a helicopter rescue pilot by taking part in a demonstration of how to land a helicopter on water — a specialty of Canadian forces — and the couple also plans to put on aprons and take part in a cooking workshop in Quebec City.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as the couple is formally known, will begin Canada Day — a celebration of Canada's nationhood — at a citizenship ceremony at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, giving Canadian flags to the newly minted citizens. They will then travel to Parliament Hill for the official festivities.
William and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper plan to make speeches at the national celebration. There will be a video link to Canadian forces in Afghanistan. Next comes the raucous part: Fireworks and rock music for the masses, including the duke and duchess.
They will meet with veterans, war brides and their families the next day before flying to Montreal and then traveling by frigate to Quebec City.
They plan to say morning prayers with the ship's crew the next day.
The next stop will be the Atlantic province of Prince Edward Island, famed as the home of the fictional character Anne of Green Gables.
The duke and duchess will compete in a dragon boat race across a lake, and be treated with local delicacies, including lobster and chocolate-covered potato chips, Lowther-Pinkerton said.
The couple will then travel to Yellowknife in the vast Northwest Territories.
They will be greeted with a First Nations people prayer drum song, dances, and a demonstration of arctic sports before traveling by float plane to remote Blachford Lake.
They will meet with students and elders to learn about native traditions and plan sit around the campfire with young people talking about their lives in the wilderness.
The evening will include a private canoe trip to a nearby island for a barbecue with students, officials said, followed by a 24-hour hiatus from official duties.
Don't ask what the duke and duchess are doing with their private time; the palace will not say.
Their final major event in Canada focuses on the Calgary Stampede, a popular annual rodeo and festival. The royals will be given 10-gallon cowboy hats and are expected to dress in jeans and casual western clothes for the extravaganza, officials said.
The ambiance will change markedly on the duke and duchess' three-day jaunt to southern California, which will feature a star-studded black-tie dinner at LA's renovated Belasco Theater to introduce young British film talent to Hollywood executives and a charity polo event in Santa Barbara.
The trip will mark the duchess' first-ever trip to North America.
It will cost the Canadian government about $1.5 million, Moore estimated.