Published July 04, 2011
CHARLOTTETOWN, Prince Edward Island – Prince William was preparing to put his military helicopter training to the test Monday with his first attempt at a water landing before crowds in Canada, where he and his wife, Kate, have been on their first official overseas trip since their wedding.
The couple moved on to Prince Edward Island after charming hundreds of fans Sunday in predominantly French-speaking Quebec despite the presence of anti-monarchy protesters nearby.
Prince William, a Royal Air Force rescue helicopter pilot, requested the training exercise at Prince Edward Island as part of his visit. Canada is the only country that trains its Sea King helicopter pilots to do a controlled landing on water should there be an emergency. The Sea King, which William flies back in the U.K, has the ability to land on water because of its amphibious hull.
The couple later will also take part in a dragon boat race at Prince Edward Island, with the two steering opposing teams.
The newlyweds on Monday were on the fifth of a nine-day trip to Canada, part of their first official overseas trip since their April 29 wedding. They leave for a three-day trip to California on July 8.
On Sunday the couple thrilled hundreds of adoring fans in Quebec with an unscheduled walkabout in a city that was the site of the key British victory in the conquest of the French — a historical event not forgotten by French-speaking separatists protesting nearby.
The Quebec visit hit a nerve among French-speaking separatists. Prince William and Kate had a private lunch at the Citadelle, a fortified residence where the British flag was raised at the end of the pivotal 1759 Battle of Quebec, when British forces defeated the French to seal the conquest of New France.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as they are officially known, encountered small but vocal protests for the second straight day during their visit to predominantly French-speaking Quebec, following protests in Montreal.
"What they've seen in Quebec, in Montreal the last two days is, for them, just part of the rich fabric of Canada and in no way detracts from how much they respect and admire the country," said the couple's spokesman, Miguel Head. "They've very much fallen in love with the country."
The jeers contrasted with the start of the royal couple's Canadian trip in the largely English-speaking capital, Ottawa, where they were cheered by tens of thousands of people on Friday's Canada Day holiday.
Quebec separatists are angry that Canada still has ties to the monarchy. Queen Elizabeth II is still the country's head of state.
Police were out in force in downtown Quebec City. About 200 protesters, some wearing black and waving flags, demonstrated about two blocks from City Hall, where Prince William, a Royal Air Force helicopter pilot, attended a ceremony to honor and inspect the Royal 22e Regiment, the most famous French-speaking unit in the Canadian military.
A larger crowd of several hundred supporters, chanting "Will and Kate" were allowed closer to City Hall and greeted the royal motorcade with loud cheers when it arrived.
After a military band played the first six bars of "God Save the Queen," Prince William made brief remarks entirely in French.
"You, the Quebecois et Quebecoise, have such vitality and a remarkable pride. We are simply delighted to be here," he said.
Undeterred by the nearby protesters, Prince William and Kate charmed the Quebeckers with an unexpected walkabout. The royal couple went to the barricade, chatting and shaking hands with enthusiastic supporters in the square around City Hall before leaving by motorcade.
Support for the separatists among Quebeckers has been on the decline in recent years as the 80-percent French-speaking province has enjoyed plenty of autonomy even without quitting Canada.