Long waits pay off for some royal fans

Christine Congrady drove five hours from Whitby, Ont., to Ottawa, then camped out overnight on Parliament Hill, and finally got her reward Friday in an interchange with the Duchess of Cambridge.
Amanda Oliver, Christine Congrady, Joan Milovick and Barbara McLaughlan model their hats, which they made, and rings, which they bought because they look like the sapphire engagement band that Prince William gave to his now-wife, Kate, and that his mother, Diana, once wore. (CBC)

Christine Congrady drove five hours from Whitby, Ont., to Ottawa on Thursday night, then camped out on the front lawn of Parliament Hill. From there, she could see the sign for the hotel where she had booked a room she realized she wasn't going to use.

"We really wanted to be up front and have our sign here. Our sign says 'Will and Kate, you are worth the wait,' and we definitely feel that way."

Just a few minutes after meeting the royal couple, she said it was totally worth it.

Congrady, sister Joan Milovick and friends Amanda Oliver and Barbara McLaughlan drew a lot of attention for their elaborate fascinators. The women made the headgear for the royal wedding in April, then found out about the royal tour of Canada and decided to drive to Ottawa for Canada Day.

Prince William and Kate initially walked past onlookers on their way to the stage, but took the time for a proper walkabout after the show. But Congrady says she wasn't worried. Kate, she says, looked at her and the bouquet of flowers she held on the way up to the stage.

"I just said, 'these are for you,' and she said, 'I know,' and I just smiled," Congrady said.

She said the four women are teachers who are always looking for positive role models.

"I think that part of what [Diana, William's mother] did, when they were younger, was to try to have them see what life was like, to have normal experiences. And you can see when he interacts with children or people in need that he genuinely cares," Congrady said.

'People thought we were crazy'

Madison Dobson, 16, also travelled from the Toronto area to catch part of the royal couple's Canadian tour. She came with her mom Jacquelyn and sister Elyssa, who turned 20 on Friday.

"People thought we were crazy coming out here, you know, but this is something I got to share with my sister on her birthday ... and my mom as well," Madison said.

The Dobsons spoke with William, who asked her where she was from and whether it was her first time in Ottawa, "and told me to put more sunscreen on," she said, laughing.

"Down-to-earth people," Jacquelyn said. "It takes your breath away."

One Manitoba teen had less luck Thursday night, however.

Corey Cook, 18,  was invited to meet the royal couple because he's part of a First Nations group that promotes living a good life without drugs and alcohol. But because Will and Kate were running behind, and a youth barbecue had to be moved inside because of rain, they missed Cook's table.

He said he was still very close.

"I was pretty disappointed. I was really looking forward to meeting them and sharing what I do. You know, they are amazing people. They were really, really interested in each person they were talking to."

Cook said he is pleased Will and Kate did get a chance to talk with other aboriginal youth.

"They were just so genuine and very polite," he added.

William and Kate were back on Parliament Hill on Friday night to watch some of the evening show. Their nine-day tour moves on to Quebec on Saturday.