British Columbia

Royal tour planners create "narrative," says expert

Events on Prince William and Kate's itinerary have been chosen to tell a story about the causes and issues they are interested in, according to a former head of protocol for the Canadian government.

Goal is to support causes and interests championed by the royal couple

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, are visiting B.C. and Yukon between Sept. 24 and Oct. 1. (Chris Jackson/Pool/Getty)

The goal of a royal tour is to put on a series of events that create the right "narrative," according to a former head of protocol for the Canadian government.

"It's all about creating a narrative supportive of the causes and interests championed by the royal couple," Margaret Huber told Daybreak South host Chris Walker.

Huber was Canada's chief of protocol between 2010 and 2013.

Royal causes dear to Canada

She said the causes that are close to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's heart are also causes that are dear to Canada.

"Education, protection for our environment, care for the elderly, for the more vulnerable in our society, youth at risk as well as championing the positive role in our lives offered by the arts, music and sports."

Those causes and interests are very much on display in the itinerary for Prince William and Kate's upcoming tour of B.C. and Yukon.

When the royal couple visits Vancouver, they will visit Sheway, a pregnancy outreach program, on the Downtown Eastside.

Karen Leann Starr hopes to thank the royal couple for wanting to hear her story when they visit Sheway. (Belle Puri )

In Kelowna, Will and Kate will take in an exhibition women's volleyball game at UBC's Okanagan Campus.

"They want to meet young people. They want to meet students while they're here. They want to meet people who are going to be out in the world making a difference," said UBCO women's volleyball coach Steve Manuel.

A small group of people at the university have known about the upcoming visit for a couple of weeks now, said Manuel, but they were all sworn to secrecy, so as to not upstage the official announcement.

Visit hard secret to keep

"It's been difficult news to keep under our hats, because everybody's quite excited, but it looks like we did an OK job," he said.

Manuel said his team will play a real volleyball match for the royal couple.

"The difference is we will split our squad into two teams, one wearing our dark uniform and the other wearing our light uniform."

Planning a royal visit is very much a team effort, said Huber.

"But the lead is taken by the Canadian secretary to the Queen and Heritage Canada, supported by the Office of Protocol of Canada and of course in this case, B.C. protocol counterparts.

The lead hosts are our Governor General, David Johnston, and the prime minister."

Huber said that when it comes to following protocol for a royal visit, people should not get too hung up on the finer details.


Ultimately, protocol is about showing the proper respect.

"I had to laugh when I read some of the news articles about putting people on alert, saying 'please don't expect to take selfies with the royal couple.' I mean, nobody likes having cameras in their face and to me it's just common courtesy,"she said.

Huber added that Will and Kate are not the sort of people who stand on ceremony.

"I can tell you from my own experience, they're such a delightful couple."

With files from CBC Radio's Daybreak South