William and Kate's 2nd royal visit to Canada will be this fall
Duke and Duchess of Cambridge 'delighted' to visit Yukon, British Columbia
Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton will visit British Columbia and Yukon this fall during their second royal visit to Canada.
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Gov. Gen. David Johnston made the announcement today in a news release.
The release said Johnston and his wife, Sharon Johnston, will once again "be delighted to welcome Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Canada. Our true Canadian pride and spirit will shine and be at the very heart of this visit so they can feel at home."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had sent a letter earlier this month inviting the couple to Canada, in what will be their first stop here since becoming parents.
It's not known if their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, will be in tow.
A detailed itinerary will come at a later date.
'Delighted' to return to Canada
A spokesman for Kensington Palace said the couple is "delighted" to be returning to Canada.
"They hold very happy memories from their visit in 2011 — their first overseas tour as a married couple," the spokesman said in a statement. "They are really looking forward to seeing other parts of this beautiful country and having the opportunity to meet many more Canadians along the way."
Trudeau also issued a statement saying he is "delighted" by news of the visit.
"This royal tour, the second undertaken by Their Royal Highnesses to Canada, also presents a unique opportunity for Canadians of all backgrounds to meet with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and learn more about our heritage, traditions, and institutions," the prime minister said.
William and Kate last visited Canada in 2011 as newlyweds, drawing hundreds of thousands of spectators throughout a nine-day tour.
The royal couple visited seven cities and five provinces, including P.E.I., Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Quebec and Ontario, with a stop in Ottawa to mark Canada Day on Parliament Hill.
Robert Finch, chairman of The Monarchist League of Canada, said Canadians are "hugely appreciative" of the role of the duke and duchess.
Visit ahead of Canada's 150th birthday
"The timing of the homecoming is ideal to raise fresh awareness of the significant year of 2017, the 150th anniversary of Canada's Confederation: a time to be extra proud of our institutions and all the good things that, together, Canadians have built and are accomplishing," he said.
Finch said it is normal for Canada's future monarchs (Charles, William and, much later, George) to make regular visits to Canada to appreciate the people, land, strengths and challenges first-hand.
The fall visit will be a chance to get to know Canadians better, from the Governor General and prime minister, through to "those they will meet in the volunteer sector, the military, the First Nations people, our honoured veterans, new members of our national family and 'just folks' through their itinerary including walkabouts and other mass occasions," he said.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark said she is pleased the visit will highlight her province.
"Like the Olympics, Women's World Cup, Expo '86 and other international events, the Royal Tour will focus global attention on B.C. and showcase everything British Columbians take pride in, from our unmatched natural beauty to our thriving, diverse communities," she said in a statement.
Will visit spark head of state debate?
But anti-monarchist group Citizens for a Canadian Republic hopes the visit will spark renewed debate over head of state reforms.
Spokesman Tom Freda does not object to rolling out the welcome mat as Canada does for other dignitaries, but he questions whether taxpayers should be forced to foot the bill.
"They're not diplomats — they're simply relatives of someone who is," he told CBC News. "Family members of the president of the United States don't come here on the Canadian taxpayers' dime. And we wonder how long that should continue."
Freda expects that as the Queen gets older, there will be heightened discussions throughout the Commonwealth.
"We welcome that debate, and hope that Canadians look at the situation and realize that Canada is an independent nation, and it doesn't really make sense for a country as evolved both as culturally and politically as we are today, to have another country supply us with a head of state," he said.
Because exact dates have not been set, it's not known if the trip could overlap with an election campaign period in Yukon this fall.
Will visit coincide with Yukon election?
Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski issued a statement saying he is looking forward to "offering a warm Yukon welcome to the royal couple."
"The commissioner of Yukon and I have been working to confirm a royal visit to the territory, and we are thrilled about today's announcement," he said "A royal tour is a unique opportunity to showcase Yukon to the world, and I know that Yukoners will make the most of this visit."