Prince Philip begins Toronto visit

Prince Philip has arrived in Toronto to take part in the city's festivities commemorating the War of 1812.

'I can't tell you how awesome this is going to be'

Prince Philip arrives in Toronto. 5:17

Prince Philip was awarded the highest level of the Order of Canada shortly after arriving in Toronto on Friday for a brief royal visit.

At a downtown reception, Gov. Gen. David Johnston presented the Duke of Edinburgh with the insignias of Companion of the Order of Canada and Commander of the Order of Military Merit.

Secretary to the Governor General, Stephen Wallace, said during the ceremony that Philip "has long embodied dignity, loyalty and service to others" and has helped advance the personal achievement of young Canadians through the Duke of Edinburgh's Award.

"Through his many visits to Canada, both on his own and with Her Majesty The Queen, he has shown his lasting concern for our country and for Canadians," Wallace said.

Before the ceremony, Philip had English breakfast tea with Johnston, his wife Sharon and retired Royal Canadian Regiment Col. Joe Aitchison.

Johnston and Philip discussed Newfoundland, chatting about the prince's stopover in Gander in the island's northeast.

Johnston talked about how the province went from being a "have-not" to a "have" province under the federal equalization program, "And now they're bailing out the rest of us."

"They're very noticeably Maritimers," Philip said.

Aitchison said Philip, who has been the regiment's honorary colonel-in-chief since 1953, is seen as one of the regular officers.

"When he's here we don't think of him as Prince Philip," Aitchison said. "I'd have tea with him as with any other regimental officer."

Prince Philip has arrived in Toronto to kick off what Ottawa calls a private working visit.

On Saturday, Prince Philip will be at the provincial legislature to take part in a breakfast reception with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Lieut.-Gov. David Onley.

He will then present a new regimental colour to the Petawawa-based Third Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment on the grounds of Queen's Park.

Maj. Derrick Wessan says the regiment is "honoured ... to have our colonel-in-chief available to officiate this ceremony in the great city of Toronto.  I can't tell you how awesome this is going to be."

Regimental colours are a kind of ceremonial flag considered the most prized possession of every regiment.

Later on Saturday, more than 100 Royal Canadian Regiment troops will join more than 1,700 other soldiers in a military march through the streets of Toronto. 

The parade will finish at Fort York, where troops will gather for a ceremony commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Battle of York.

Master Cpl. Dave Mitchell is looking forward to the day.

"It's a good experience — especially to be able to do it in front of so many people.  I think it'll be good for our unit altogether to show people basically what we're all about," he said.



With files from the CBC's Marivel Taruc