Nfld. & Labrador

Prince Charles, Camilla depart St. John's as Day 1 of Canadian Royal Tour wraps up

St. John's visit is the first stop in the royal couple's three-day Canadian tour.

St. John's is 1st stop in 3-day tour

Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, meet with residential school survivors and elders at the Heart Garden at Government House. The royal couple participated in a ceremony honouring Indigenous children who attended residential schools in Labrador and northern Newfoundland. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Prince Charles and Camilla capped a whirlwind first stop on their three-day Canadian tour by pulling a couple of pints of beer in St. John's on Tuesday. 

The royal couple visited the provincial legislature, the lieutenant-governor's residence and picturesque Quidi Vidi Village during a 4½-hour tour that encompassed themes from sombre to celebratory.

Charles and Camilla landed shortly before 1:30 p.m. NT, and headed to Confederation Building, which houses the provincial House of Assembly, where a crowd had gathered for the tour's opening ceremony. They greeted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Andrew Furey and others, and Charles participated in a military ceremony. 

Afterward, the Stadacona Band of Maritime Forces Atlantic played military renditions of Newfoundland and Labrador folk tunes like Great Big Sea's Ordinary Day.

The welcome ceremony began with a prayer read in Innu-aimun by Elder Elizabeth Penashue before Inuk classical singer Deantha Edmunds sang Sons of Labrador, the anthem of Nunatsiavut, the ancestral homeland of the Labrador Inuit.

In his speech, Charles discussed Indigenous reconciliation, which is expected to be a focus of the tour.

"I know that our visit here this week comes at an important moment, with Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples across Canada committing to reflect honestly and openly on the past, and to forge a new relationship for the future."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stands next to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Governor General Mary Simon and her husband Whit Fraser, as they attend a welcoming ceremony in St. John's. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

In her speech, Gov. Gen. Mary Simon also emphasized reconciliation.

"I encourage you to speak to Indigenous peoples, to hear their stories, their successes and their solutions, and to encourage you to learn the truth of our history, the good and the bad," she said. "In this way we will promote healing, understanding and respect." 

Innu Nation Grand Chief Etienne Rich, NunatuKavut President Todd Russell, Miawpukek First Nation Chief Mi'sel Joe and Qalipu First Nation Chief Brendan Mitchell also spoke with the royal couple, and were present for the welcome ceremony.

In his remarks, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reflected on the historical relationship between Canada and the monarchy.

"So much of the endurance and stability of our democracy is woven into our Westminster parliamentary system, our constitutional monarchy and the Crown," he said.

The ceremony also included remarks from Premier Andrew Furey and performances by Mi'kmaw musician Paul Pike, Newfoundland and Labrador folk band Rum Ragged and others.

Paying respects

Following the welcome event, Charles and Camilla headed to the Heart Garden at Government House, the lieutenant-governor's residence, to participate in a ceremony honouring Indigenous children who attended residential schools in Labrador and northern Newfoundland. The ceremony involved Indigenous leaders and performers, as well as the lieutenant-governor.

Charles participated in a ceremony honouring Indigenous children who attended residential schools in Labrador and northern Newfoundland. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

In her remarks, Foote said the heart garden at Government House is about "honouring memories, and planting dreams."

"People come here to reflect, but they also come to pay respect," she said.

Russell, president of the NunatuKavut community council, read a prayer during the ceremony.

"We acknowledge the lasting hurt and pain that many people, families and communities continue to experience. We take time today to reflect on what happened and why it happened," he said.

Some art and some beer

Inside Government House, Charles and Camilla met with a knitting circle from the Newfoundland Outport Nursing and Industrial Association and representatives of Campaign for Wool Canada.

Charles came face to face with his wool dopplegänger and a wool bust of the Queen, knit by Manitoban artist Rosemarie Péloquin.

Prince Charles looks at woolen busts of himself and Queen Elizabeth II as the Royal couple meets with representatives of Campaign for Wool Canada in St. John's. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Next, Charles and Camilla met with crafts producers at Quidi Vidi Artisan Studios — and even participated in demonstrations with artists before taking a walk around the harbour. 

Accompanied by comedian Mark Critch and St. John's Mayor Danny Breen, among others, the royals ended their visit with a stop that will be familiar to many who have toured St. John's: Quidi Vidi Brewery.

Charles and Camilla learned how to pull a Quidi Vidi pint and sampled a beer alongside brewery owner Justin Fong, who called the visit a "huge honour."

Excitement for fans

Charles and Camilla mingled with hundreds of people in Quidi Vidi Village, some standing on picnic tables hoping to meet the couple.

Linda Hennebury, who lives in Quidi Vidi, pulled out all the stops for their arrival of the royals. She told CBC News her grandmother, who came from England, taught her about the Royal Family.

"Every time there's a visit of either one of the Royal Family I make a habit of making sure that I don't miss them," she said.

Linda Hennebury, owner of the Inne of Olde, wants to present a gift to Charles ⁠— a painting of Quidi Vidi she did herself while she was recovering from cancer. (Malone Mullin/CBC)

Hennebury held a picture of a young Queen Elizabeth II that she said survived a house fire. Hennebury said she showed the picture to the Queen during a previous visit. On Tuesday, she showed the picture to Charles while he mingled with the crowd at Quidi Vidi.

"Just remember she's your mother. Love her to pieces," she told the prince.

Trudeau says royal visit is opportunity to hear from Canadians of all backgrounds

1 month ago
Duration 0:40
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall's visit to Canada will allow them to hear about reconciliation with Indigenous people and other issues that are important to Canadians.

Hennebury also presented Charles with a painting of Quidi Vidi Village that she painted while recovering from breast cancer.

The visit was a thrill for three fans — Derrick Murray, Meghan Churchill and Sheryl Noel — who said they waited all day to meet the royals.

Derrick Murray, Meghan Churchill and Sheryl Noel were ecstatic after meeting Charles and Camilla. (Malone Mullin/CBC)

"[Camilla] liked my hat and Charles liked the jacket — well, it is British design," said Murray.

Churchill said she's been following the royals her whole life, but Tuesday was the first time she saw one in person.

"It was the most exciting moment," she said.

The royals departed St. John's shortly before 6 p.m.

Visit will 'mean a lot,' says prime minister

This tour marks the 19th time that Charles has visited Canada, and the first since a wave of republicanism swept the Caribbean earlier this year.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters earlier Tuesday he wasn't hearing significant anti-monarchy sentiment from Canadians and said he welcomed Charles and Camilla's visit.

"I know this will mean a lot to people here," said Trudeau. "As we look at challenges facing our democratic institutions around the world, I think we can be very pleased we have such a stable system."

But federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he supports a request from Indigenous communities for an apology from the monarchy for its role in the residential school system.

NDP leader supports call on monarchy to apologize for role in residential school system

1 month ago
Duration 0:28
As the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall arrive in Canada, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh backs a request from Indigenous communities for an apology from the monarchy for its role in the residential school system.

Trudeau dodged a direct question about whether he believed the royals owed residential school survivors an apology, however, and instead spoke about how his government hoped the Prince and Duchess would use the trip as an opportunity to discuss Indigenous reconciliation and hear from "all sorts of Canadians from different backgrounds."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Malone Mullin

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