Canada

Royals reign in rainy Regina

The Queen starts her second day in Canada Wednesday by riding in a horse-drawn carriage through the streets of Regina.

Queen Elizabeth and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, braved the downpour in Regina Wednesday as they arrived at the Saskatchewan legislature bearing umbrellas in their open carriage.

The Royals smiled and waved, appearing in good humour as they descended from the black landau. The Queen – wearing a beige rain poncho, topped with a red hat with black trim – held her own umbrella, a see-through version with a red stripe. She seemed at ease as she joked with the assembled dignitaries about the rain.

Canada's Gov.-Gen. Adrienne Clarkson escorted her to a podium where the Queen stood as the band played God Save the Queen and a flag was raised. After the cannon fire, she inspected the troops, still holding her umbrella.

Prime Minister Paul Martin shepherded the Queen toward a line of Saskatchewan politicians, their spouses and the mayor of Regina.

"I have said this is my home away from home and it is good to be back," said the Queen in her speech. Speaking in both official languages, she also paid homage to Saskatchewan, celebrating its centenary.

"Saskatchewan, as a province, has evolved into one that is open to the future [with] dynamic municipalities and wonderful communities."

The clouds opened, drenching the crowd, just after she gave her speech.

Martin and Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert spoke prior to the Queen.

Martin honoured her as having "borne witness to the changes, challenges and achievements of our history ... we give you our loyalty, our deep-felt affection and most heart-felt welcome."

Calvert thanked the 79-year-old monarch for "sharing yourself with us."

One woman bystander interviewed on CBC Television remarked the Queen "looked cool, calm and collected. She seemed to be very much enjoying herself."

Royals move onto small town luncheon

This is the Queen's second day in Canada, after arriving from London Tuesday to help Saskatchewan and Alberta celebrate their centennials during her 22nd trip to Canada.

After a walk to greet members of the public and some of the veterans in the crowd, the Queen unveiled a giant bronze statue of herself mounted sidesaddle on Burmese, one of her favourite horses.

The pure black mare was born and raised in Saskatchewan and trained as an RCMP Musical Ride mount before being presented to the monarch in the late 1960s. The Queen rode Burmese in the annual Queen's Birthday Parade until 1986, when the horse was retired. She has never ridden in the parade since.

The monarch also unveiled two other things: a plaque naming the Queen Elizabeth II Gardens at the legislature and a Saskatchewan centennial mural by artist Roger Jerome.

Meanwhile, Prince Philip turned the sod for a new Saskatchewan War Memorial.

After the events in Regina, the royal couple headed to the town of Lumsden, where they enjoyed a cold-plate luncheon along with 500 guests, entertained by local bands, dancers and vocalists.

The Queen and Prince Philip will leave Saskatchewan for Alberta on Friday, spending five days there before returning to London on May 25.