First Nations, fashion and no high-5 from Prince George: How the royal tour is seen in Britain

News coverage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s trip to British Columbia and Yukon is giving Britons a look at regions and issues that would usually go unnoticed in the United Kingdom, the CBC's Thomas Daigle writes from London.

West Coast trip gives Britons a look at Canadian issues that usually go unnoticed in U.K.

News coverage of the visit to Canada by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children is giving Britons a glimpse of the country the royals are visiting. (Thomas Daigle/CBC)

The star power of Prince William and Kate and the overseas popularity of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, have combined to make a British tabloid editor's dream come true.

But the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's trip to Canada's Pacific coast is also giving Britons a look at regions and issues that would usually go unnoticed on the opposite side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Several British news outlets have sent their royal correspondents on the 7,600-kilometre journey from London to cover the family's eight-day visit.

Much attention has been focused on the rare public appearances by the youngest royals, Prince George and Princess Charlotte. The jet-lagged future king's refusal to high-five Trudeau made it into every British tabloid and television newscast. 

"Prince snubs PM high-five," The Sun headline read, while the BBC reported it was a "rare defeat for Canada's prime minister." Joking aside, even Britons don't often get such a good glimpse of the three-year-old.

As usual, some of the most-read articles on British news sites have laid out the fashion on display. London's Daily Mail reported "a mismatching purple hat stopped Canada's First Lady Sophie Grégoire Trudeau [from] outdressing the dazzling duchess" over the weekend. 

While that type of headline may be common in the U.K., the spotlight shone on the legacy of Britain's colonial past makes this royal visit stand out. 

'Uneasy, tumultuous relationship'

The Guardian warned its readers William and Kate would be forced to "confront the uneasy, tumultuous relationship that exists today between many of Canada's First Nations and the Crown." 

Rather than avoid the issue, William and Kate planned visits to the Heiltsuk and Carcross/Tagish First Nations.

The couple's aides surely warned them of the likelihood of a protest like the one staged by the grand chief of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, Stewart Phillip. 

But when it materialized and The Times of London reported the Duke and Duchess had been "dragged into a row" over the plight of Indigenous Peoples, the issue will have been news to many readers. 

Conversely, Sky News reported the royals "received a very warm ceremonial welcome from the small Heiltsuk First Nation."

Canada's monarchy "symbolizes a system of conquest, class and dominance that we, as a nation, must once and for all disavow ourselves of," Governor General's Award-winning playwright Jordan Tannahill told Britons in The Guardian. The newspaper has traditionally taken a more critical stance toward the monarchy and this trip has been no different.

Ask around and most Britons will be well aware their Queen is Canada's as well. But criticism of the monarchy in Canada isn't always heard this far away. The last time it drew this much attention in the U.K. was in 2011, when William and Kate made their first trip to Canada and were greeted in Montreal with a sign that read "parasite go home."

In its reporting, the BBC referred to Canada as a "federation of former British colonies." The public broadcaster's royal correspondent, though, hinted at uncertainty surrounding the future of the monarchy in the country.

As the royals touched down in Victoria, Peter Hunt noted they represent the future of the throne, but only "as things stand" now.

Picturesque landscapes

The tour has also shown Britons some of the most far-flung and picturesque Canadian landscapes, chosen by organizers knowing William and Kate's surroundings would be featured almost as prominently as the royals themselves.

The Great Bear Rainforest was described on Sky News as the "jewel in the crown" of Canada, while Daily Telegraph readers learned of "rugged" Yukon's "vast skies and vistas."

No overseas trip is complete without a sampling of local delicacies. The Daily Mail expected the couple would try poutine ("chips slathered in gravy and cheese curds").

As William and Kate were introduced to geoduck in Kelowna, the London Evening Standard told readers it was "a giant clam with a long neck which the uninitiated often find off-putting."

Just as Britons know Elizabeth is Canada's Queen, most claim to know and like Canada. They normally say Canadians are unlike their American neighbours and repeat the old adage that Canadians are all nice people. 

Maybe William and Kate's travels will help expand that knowledge, if only a bit.

About the Author

Thomas Daigle

Thomas Daigle is a journalist for CBC News based in London.