The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were our guests of honour to this grand Canada Day party. Prince William's words to his wife as they arrived at the
entrance to the Parliament buildings were, “Wow, what a lot of people!” The historic Canadian Landau has been used and is reserved for only HM The Queen and our Governor General on state occasions.
Accompanying the royal party were Canada’s finest, 50 RCMPs in the finest attire on horseback. After the initial handshake and greetings to the royal couple from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his family, and the R.H. David Johnston, Governor General and his wife, the royal couple were then escorted to the stage area. They gestured their “royal waves” to either side of these vast crowds as they continued to walk forward. A royal walkabout would have to wait until the end of the performance.
The royal couple walked up on to the stage to thunderous applause from the vast crowds. There were seated in a dome-shaped VIP compartment where they all could watch and participate in this noontime national showcase of the performing arts. I was only 20-25 feet away from all of them!
The opening act of this national and cultural event was a drum percussion piece representing both the past and present, combined with English and French performers and many dancers to celebrate this grand party with style. After both national anthems were sung, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge sang “God Save the Queen,” which was a touching moment for all, watching them on the monitors. Canada’s famous “Snow Birds” buzzed over Parliament Hill, and gave us two spectacular performances of their aerial ballet and their military salute to the royal couple!
Greetings were shared by many VIPS on the platform, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper's words in reference to the royal couple: “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are a young couple who represent our unbreakable link with the past and our unqualified optimism for the future. We wish these royal newlyweds our best wishes on their eight-day tour of Canada.” Harper’s greetings provoked a huge roar from the crowds, and a familiar “Diana blush” from Prince William was notice by all, as he responded to the crowds or at times gazed at his Duchess. Throughout the program, the Duke and Duchess chatted or laughed like newlyweds, which was an endearing moment for the 100,000 plus to observe.
The Duke of Cambridge, speaking in both French and English, stated that “The Queen has asked me to convey her warmest wishes to the peoples of Canada. As the Queen of Canada, she has taken a great interest in the themes and programs of our tour and looks forward to following our progress as it unfolds.”
The Duke continued in his address to the “soon to be returning Canadian military force” who will cease their major role and involvement in Afghanistan. “Canadian Armed Forces have always led the world in rallying the defense of freedom. From Vimy Ridge and Juno Beach through Korea and the Balkans to Kandahar Province, the sacrifice of Canadians has been universally revered and respected.”
Following the remarks of the Duke of Cambridge, the newly minted Governor General R.H. David Johnston shared some of his thoughts as this was his first Canada Day ceremony. The Governor General made reference to attending the royal wedding in April, that there was “much joy and celebration for all to partake. What better occasion than for us to return the favour by hosting these young royals on their first official visit overseas."
"The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge," he continued, "will be meeting Canadians and attracting interest from all Canadians young and old, who will be greeting them with a warmth for which we are famous! Your Royal Highness, you both have a singular responsibility before you, both at home and within the Commonwealth. We have no doubt that you will handle your future roles aiding them with vitality.”
Closing the show was Canada’s own Great Big Sea performing “Can’t Get Down” as the crowds sang along to this familiar song that is a standard for any GBS national or international concert. We all had enjoyed this historic event, being a part of the crowd and overcoming the very hot temperatures to experience “Will and Kate” Canadian mania.
I was only 20-25 feet away from my future King and Queen of Canada. Something to share and tell my grandchildren about all of these experiences in the future!
To celebrate Canada Day 2011 with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Andrew Morton has generously donated a signed copy of his new book William and Catherine: Their Story for an upcoming online auction with which I am involved, No Strings Theatre (NST); this a youth musical theatre company that aids talented youth in their skills in Toronto, ON. If you would like to know more about NST or this auction, please check out our website.