Whistlestop royal visit touched on serious subjects but had lighter moments, too
3-day trip focused on current concerns ranging from reconciliation with Indigenous people to climate change
Hello, royal watchers. This is a special edition of the newsletter following the three-day visit to Canada by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, last week. Reading this online? Sign up here to get this delivered to your inbox.
When Prince Charles stepped up to take part in a drum dance Thursday in Yellowknife, it came as something of a surprise to some of those there.
"Nobody thought he would, but he did have a dance once around, and that shows that he does care and wants to help," Fred Sangris, Yellowknives Dene First Nation chief for Ndilǫ, told CBC News Network.
Sangris said he and other leaders spoke with Charles about reconciliation, residential schools, the Giant Mine remediation project and a lack of housing.
"I think he understood. He was really attentive, listening to our concerns."
The drum dance and that time spent with the leaders came as Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, were on the final day of their three-day visit to Canada. The whistlestop tour was part of efforts to mark Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee and 70 years as monarch and took the couple from St. John's to Ottawa and, finally, the Northwest Territories.
There were many serious moments, as Charles and Camilla attended events and spoke with people about issues ranging from climate change to Indigenous concerns, which Charles acknowledged in a speech Thursday.
"Our visit has enabled us to deepen our understanding of this important moment in Canada's journey," he said.
"It has been deeply moving to have met survivors of residential schools who, with such courage, have shared their experiences. On behalf of my wife and myself, I want to acknowledge their suffering and to say how much our hearts go out to them and their families. All leaders have shared with me the importance of advancing reconciliation in Canada."
There were lighter times, too, such as when Charles met a life-size woolen bust of his own face, which was part of efforts to promote wool and its sustainability. He and Camilla also pulled a couple of pints of beer at the Quidi Vidi Brewery in St. John's.
Ahead of the visit, there had been some discussion about how much interest there would be in the tour, given its relatively short duration, along with the discussion such visits typically generate around the relevance and future of the monarchy.
In this case, wherever Charles and Camilla went, they were welcomed.
"What stood out for me was that Charles and Camilla were warmly received everywhere they travelled," Toronto-based royal author and historian Carolyn Harris said in an interview Friday.
Harris, who noted that the visit had "a very strong emphasis on listening to Canadians from all walks of life," said she was also struck by "how topical the itinerary was," with a focus on Indigenous reconciliation, climate change and sustainable financing, along with time spent meeting with Ukrainian Canadians.
During their time in Ottawa, Charles and Camilla visited the ByWard Market. As they met and spoke with local farmers and entrepreneurs, they "very much seemed to be in their element," Harris said.
Whether the way in which this tour unfolded, and how Charles and Camilla were received, will influence future royal visits remains to be seen.
"Certainly, a longer tour would have enabled them to visit more regions of the country and engage with even more people," Harris said, "so there'll be interest in seeing what subsequent royal tours look like and whether they remain very short and targeted like this one, or whether we'll see some slightly longer tours in the future."
For his part, Charles seemed struck by what he and Camilla experienced, and said they "greatly appreciated the warmth and hospitality."
"When we began our journey in St. John's earlier this week — and in marking the Queen's Platinum Jubilee by celebrating the spirit of people and service — our great hope was that we might listen to and learn from Canadians directly," he said during his speech Thursday.
"This hope has been more than fulfilled. We have treasured beyond words the way that so many people have shared with us their experiences, their ideas and their example."
He said they will remain "in close touch," including through the Canadian organizations he and Camilla are affiliated with.
"Above all, we will be closely following the next chapter in this country's remarkable story — and doing so with the greatest affection and admiration for everything that Canada and Canadians stand for in the world."
Day by day
Here's a roundup of CBC coverage of the royal visit over the past few days:
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 the sombre to the celebratory.
Ottawa on Wednesday marked the longest stop on the visit, and saw Prince Charles and Camilla tour a city he recently called "the much-storied capital at the heart of a great nation."
In the Northwest Territories on Thursday, a pair of Yellowknives Dene First Nation councillors said Prince Charles and Camilla were very polite and interested in learning about Dene culture.
Royal visits inevitably prompt discussion and debate over the monarchy and its future. Here's some CBC coverage on that from the past week or so:
- AnalysisA royal visit at a time of reckoning: Will Prince Charles and Camilla connect with Canadians?
WATCH | Why it would be so hard to ditch Canada's constitutional monarchy:
A surprise appearance
Public appearances by Queen Elizabeth have been rare in recent months, so it came as a surprise when the 96-year-old was on hand this week to officially open a subway line in central London named in her honour.
Health and mobility issues have been limiting her official appearances outside her residences. Last week, Prince Charles took her place reading the Queen's speech for the state opening of the British Parliament.
But the Queen was seen last weekend at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, and there are reports she hopes to attend the Chelsea Flower Show in London this coming week.
Attention will also focus in early June on how many events she will be able to attend during the long weekend marking her Platinum Jubilee.
Do you have plans to mark the Platinum Jubilee, either in Canada or the U.K.? Drop an email to The Royal Fascinator. We'll follow up in the next newsletter.
"We must listen to the truth of the lived experiences of Indigenous peoples, and we should work to understand better their pain and suffering. We all have a responsibility to listen, understand and act in ways that foster relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada."
— Prince Charles, during a speech Thursday in Yellowknife, as he and Camilla wrapped up their visit.
The art and photography that have depicted Queen Elizabeth throughout her 70 years as monarch reveal some interesting truths, author Holly Williams writes for the BBC.
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