North·ROYAL VISIT

Lifelong royalist gets rare opportunity to greet William and Kate

The visit by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Yukon has given some Royal Family fans from Alaska a rare opportunity.

Trio greets Duke, Duchess as their plane arrives and will return for Wednesday's Main Street parade

Nancy Lesh, right, seen in Whitehorse on Tuesday along with sisters Cathy and Kristin Innes-Taylor, says her fascination with the Royal Family dates back to 1957, when she penned a letter to the monarch. (Briar Stewart/CBC)

With her bright red Roots Olympic mittens, Nancy Lesh looks like the hundreds of others bundled up and pressed against the grey metal fencing at the airport, trying to catch a glimpse of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as they arrive in Whitehorse.

But Lesh isn't from Yukon and isn't even from Canada. She was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska – a lifelong royalist here to get her fix.  

"I thought it would be easier to see them in Whitehorse than in London," says Lesh. 

Her fascination with the royal family began when she was a little girl listening to Queen Elizabeth's II coronation on a tinny radio at home with her family. 

When the Queen visited Washington, D.C., in 1957, she read about the visit and then penned a letter to the monarch. 

"I got a letter back from the lady-in-waiting that the Queen was pleased that I had written her. That was pretty exciting for a kid." 

And now as an adult, the prospect of seeing Will and Kate thrills her, too. 

As soon as their itinerary was announced and she heard that they were coming to Whitehorse, she and her friend Cathy Innes-Taylor, booked their plane tickets. 

As a "token Yankee in a family of Canadians," Innes-Taylor says it is cool, lamenting that Americans don't have anything like this. 

"I guess the closest we came was the Kennedys," she says. 

'What is there not to like?'

Innes-Taylor's sister, Kristin, lives in Whitehorse and is hosting the American royal watchers. All three women stood outside in single-digit temperatures more than a 100 metres away from the tarmac where the royal plane eventually landed Tuesday night just before 7 p.m.

The only view they had of the royals was distant and fleeting as once William and Kate exited the plane and descended the stairs, they were too far away for anyone in the waiting crowd to see. 

Whitehorse residents came out to catch a glimpse of the plane carrying William and Kate on Tuesday evening, with many more expected to come out for Wednesday's festivities. (Briar Stewart/CBC)

But still they cheered and did so even louder when the royal convoy passed by. 

"We are very fortunate, we are very lucky,"says Kristin Innes-Taylor, who praised the couple for commitments to issues like mental health and conservation. 

"She is very focused on children and he is a leader in terms of being involved in very worthy causes. What is there not to like?" 

The women will be back bundled up again on Wednesday when the Duke and Duchess will walk down Main Street in Whitehorse to take part in a community block party. It is an event designed to showcase young artists and musicians and will likely afford Royal watchers a closer view.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Briar Stewart is the Moscow correspondent for CBC News. She has been covering Canada and beyond for more than 15 years and can be reached at briar.stewart@cbc.ca or on Twitter @briarstewart

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