Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, arrived Monday in St. John's for the start of their 11-day royal tour of Canada.
Met by a small crowd at St. John's International Airport, the couple were taken to a public welcoming ceremony at Mile One Stadium, where they were greeted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean, Premier Danny Williams and provincial Lt.-Gov. John Crosbie.
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"Welcome, our home is your home," Harper said.
"May every leg of your journey be as exhilarating and as memorable as these first steps right here in Newfoundland and Labrador," Williams said.
Charles and Camilla were entertained by the Nunatsiavut Drum Dancers, the Shallaway youth choir and music from the Royal Newfoundland Regiment band.
In response, Charles said he was "deeply touched" by the warm welcome and looked forward to introducing his wife to the country during her first visit.
He added that Camilla already has Canadian ties, since she is the great-great-great-granddaughter of Allan MacNab, a prime minister of the province of Canada before Confederation.
Charles praised the warmth and generosity of Newfoundland and Labrador, citing the people who opened their homes and hearts to complete strangers when the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks forced scores of planes to land in the province.
The colonel-in-chief of six Canadian regiments and the air reserve, Charles said he knows that Canada's Armed Forces are serving with "the greatest possible distinction" in Afghanistan.
"In all cases, Canadians are bringing the light of freedom and justice to the darker corners of the world," Charles said.
While in the province, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will visit other areas, including Cupids, which celebrates its 400th anniversary in 2010, and Brigus, home of Arctic explorer Capt. Robert Bartlett, who died in 1946.
First as married couple
The visit includes stops in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec. They are scheduled to visit 12 cities and communities from Nov. 2 to Nov. 12.
Beginning Wednesday, the couple will visit Ontario with stops in Toronto, Hamilton and Niagara-on-the-Lake. They will, among other things, meet with Premier Dalton McGuinty, tour Dundurn Castle in Hamilton and Niagara College Teaching Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
In British Columbia, the couple will visit Victoria and Vancouver beginning Friday. In Victoria, they will meet Premier Gordon Campbell at the legislature. In Vancouver, their tour will include a visit to Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Village on Saturday morning, a stop at a cancer care clinic and a seminar on sustainable development at Simon Fraser University.
During the last leg of the royal tour, the couple will visit Ottawa and Montreal. The couple will meet with Jean, Harper and Opposition leader Michael Ignatieff followed by a meeting with Quebec Premier Jean Charest.
Their visit in eastern Ontario and Quebec will include the Cirque du Soleil and the Biodome in Montreal as well as the National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa on Remembrance Day and Rideau Hall for a tree planting ceremony before departing on Nov. 12.
This visit will be Charles's 16th tour of Canada and Camilla's first official visit.
The royal couple's tour of the country comes at a time when a recent survey obtained last week by CBC News indicated that a majority of Canadians felt the constitutional monarchy is out of step with the times, and that only one-quarter agreed Prince Charles was ahead of the times.
The Queen and Prince Philip are scheduled to visit Canada in 2010. They last came to Canada in 2005.