Thousands of adoring fans greeted Prince William, Kate and their kids in Victoria on the first day of the much-anticipated royal visit to British Columbia.

"Catherine and I are delighted to be back in Canada," William said as he addressed the crowd in front of the provincial legislature. 

"We're so pleased that George and Charlotte could be with us in Canada this time around, beginning their own lifetime of friendship with this wonderful country."

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The Duke of Cambridge greets onlookers with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in front of the Legislative Assembly in Victoria, B.C. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

The Duke of Cambridge said he and the Duchess were looking forward to meeting as many Canadians as possible during their stay. 

"We are very much looking forward to learning about how Canadians are tackling some of the biggest challenges of the day, including the environment, supporting young families, and the mental health of young people."

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The Duchess of Cambridge waves to fans during arrivals at the Legislative Assembly in Victoria, B.C. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press)

The first day of the visit was perhaps one of the most ceremonial — complete with a 21-gun salute, an official inspection of the Guard of Honour, and the laying of a wreath at the cenotaph.

The rest of their tour will be peppered with visits at social services centres, wine tastings and a children's tea party. 


Britain's Prince William inspects the honour guard during a welcome ceremony at the B.C. Legislature. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

The visit began on Saturday when the couple arrived along with their children promptly at 4 p.m. PT at 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron.

For those interested in royal fashion, the Duchess was wearing Jenny Packham ‎with hat by Lock and Co and a maple leaf brooch — a royal heirloom. 

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte arrive in Victoria. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

The family was greeted by Gov. Gen. David Johnston and his wife Sharon Johnston, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, B.C. Premier Christy Clark and her son Hamish, and B.C. Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon

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Governor General David Johnston, left to right, Sharon Johnston, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, British Columbia Premier Christy Clark and B.C. Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon stand on the tarmac as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, along with their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte arrive in Victoria.

After a brief retreat, the Duke and Duchess made their way to the B.C. Legislature, sans three-year-old George and 16-month-old Charlotte.

There a full, but not overly-packed, crowd of thousands of people awaited them, keen to catch a glimpse or shake hands with the royal couple. Many had waited for hours to get up close to the action, Canadian flags in hand. 

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Hundreds of people wait to greet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge before their arrival at the B.C. Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press)

The royal couple were officially welcomed by the Songhees First Nation, whose traditional territory includes the southern tip of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. 

They also and took in a performance by the Victoria Children's Choir


Britain's Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, speak with Aboriginal leaders during a welcome ceremony at the B.C. Legislature in Victoria. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Prime Minister Trudeau also welcomed the Duke and Duchess on their first visit with their children in tow. 

"I know you have visited Canada before, but as any parent who has travelled with children knows, it's a whole different experience when you bring your family," he said.

"Getting them back on the plane after a visit to our beautiful West Coast will really be a challenge."

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge sit with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a speech by B.C. Premier Christy Clark at the Legislative Assembly in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press)

The Governor General and the premier also offered a few remarks — the latter reminding the royal couple that the province's capital city was named in honour of their late predecessor, Queen Victoria. 

Lastly, the Duke and Duchess met privately with the Governor General and, later, with the prime minister and his wife back at Government House.

On Sunday, the visit will continue in Vancouver.