There’s nothing quite like a visit from the Royals. People, of course, have a way of flocking to celebrities—actors, pop stars, athletes—but it’s rare to find a luminary of any sort who can equally excite people of all ages, from all walks of life. From the Parliament Buildings in Victoria to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, the reaction to the Duke and Duchess’s 2016 Tour was the same: elation, and in some cases, flat-out awe.
Devout monarchists, some decked out in Royal garb, stood outside each stop on the Tour hours in advance, holding signs proudly proclaiming the last time (or, in one case, the last 50 times) they’d been on hand to see William, Catherine or one of their forebears. One toddler dressed up like Snow White—her idea of what a “princess” looks like. Two preteen girls darted across the lawn of the Legislature, having just shaken hands with the Royals, and told journalists it was nearly “Better than Bieber.” From September 24 to October 1, Will, Kate, George and Charlotte stirred up quite a frenzy in British Columbia.
The last time William came to town was 1998, on a trip with his father Prince Charles and brother Harry. Back then, 15-year-old Will was the main draw—a burgeoning heartthrob setting teen hearts aflutter. But in 2016, as the Royal couple wrangled crabs in Haida Gwaii, teetered on the edge of a railway bridge in Carcross and lent their incomparable star power to causes across B.C. and the Yukon, it was arguably his wife, with her singular beauty and iconic style, who proved to be the marquee attraction . . . followed closely by those two adorable toddlers they brought with them. We didn’t see much of George and Charlotte during this eight-day visit, but they made the most of their brief time in the spotlight—from Charlotte’s first publicly spoken words to George’s boundary-pushing balloon-animal requests.
It was a week of indelible moments, to be sure, which we’ve done our best to highlight...
DAY 1 VICTORIA
Fans lined the streets in front of Victoria Harbour and the British Columbia Parliament Buildings for hours ahead of the Duke and Duchess’s 4 p.m. arrival at Victoria International Airport on Saturday, which they watched via a screen set up on the lawn. The Royal couple was greeted on the tarmac by Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, where three-year-old George enthusiastically waved to the crowd before issuing a withering rejection of the prime minister’s attempted high-five. From there, William and Kate were escorted to Parliament, where, after being welcomed by First Nations, a military honour guard, the Victoria Children’s Choir, Premier Christy Clark and Prime Minister Trudeau, William took to the podium. “We feel very fortunate to have time to get to really know parts of this country that we did not get to visit in 2011, but of which I have very happy memories as a shy teenager,” said the Duke, referencing his 1998 trip to B.C. “A few of you remember it too well, I think.”
DAY 2 VANCOUVER
On Sunday, leaving the kids back on the island, William and Kate took a seaplane to the mainland, starting off with a walk around Jack Poole Plaza and the Olympic Cauldron, before heading to the Downtown Eastside to visit Sheway, a pregnancy outreach centre inspired by a Scottish facility opened by William’s mother Princess Diana. After visiting with staff, mothers and their babies, Will and Kate made their way to the Immigrant Services Society to tour their new Welcome Centre and hear the stories of recently arrived refugees, before opening the ISS’s new Edith Lando Playground. Next stop was Telus Garden, where the Duke and Duchess honoured community-minded youngsters from across the province, as well as a few recent Olympic and Paralympic heroes. They wrapped up the day with a trip to the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station in Vanier Park, speaking with representatives from various branches of B.C.’s first responders.
DAY 3 BELLA BELLA & VICTORIA
The weather was less than ideal when the Royals (again, sans young George and Charlotte) made their way to Bella Bella, but the wind and rain didn’t dampen the First Nations community’s inherent beauty. Will and Kate toured the Great Bear Rainforest, officially marking the lush stretch of coastline’s addition the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, an international conservation initiative. They were then presented with ceremonial wooden paddles, which artist and Heiltsuk Nation representative Ian Reid urged them to dip in the water, so as to hasten a return visit. That evening, they were back in Victoria, where the Duke added a ring of reconciliation to B.C.’s Black Rod as a gesture to relations between the Crown, First Nations and all British Columbians, in a ceremony described as “politically charged,” with several chiefs declining to take part, in protest of various provincial and federal government policies.
DAY 4 KELOWNA & WHITEHORSE
Their Royal Highnesses delighted staff and students at the University of British Columbia Okanagan, stopping by for a meet-and-greet, a volleyball demonstration and unveiling a plaque to mark the school’s 10th anniversary. Next, it was off to wine country. Specifically: Mission Hill Family Estate, where William got the chance to harvest some grapes, before he and Kate toured the Taste of British Columbia Festival, partaking in some of B.C.’s finest agri-foods. Celebrity chef Vikram Vij was on hand to prepare an Indian lamb dish, chatting with William about spices and presenting Kate with a cookbook. They capped off the day with a flight to Whitehorse, where they were greeted by fans and members of the Canadian Rangers and Junior Rangers, before heading to the Yukon River for some First Nations music, dancing and storytelling at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre.
DAY 5 WHITEHORSE & CARCROSS
For their second day in the Yukon capital, the Royals headed to the MacBride Museum for storytime with some local children, capped off by a unique encounter with 90-year-old former telegraph operator Doug Bell. Doug tapped in a message of welcome, before having the Royal couple hit a button that tweeted the message out to the masses using the museum’s new telegraph-to-tweet technology (which they also used to sign the museum’s guestbook). After that, they took a car ride to the small town of Carcross, for a walk beneath the Montana Mountain and a meeting with Single Track to Success, a First Nations-run youth mountainbiking program. They also got to inspect the historic White Pass steam engine that Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip had ridden in during their 1959 trip; wanting a closer look, William and Kate inched their way precariously along the edge of a railway bridge.
DAY 6 VICTORIA
We got a rare glimpse of little George and Charlotte on Thursday, as the Royals took it easy with a day back at home base in Victoria, where the Government House was turned into a toddler’s wonderland, complete with petting zoo and playground. Alongside families from the Military Family Resource Centre, the pint-sized Prince and Princess played with sheep, miniature horses and rabbits. George had plenty of fun blowing and chasing bubbles with his dad, and squirting his little sister with a bubble machine. But it was Charlotte who stole the show, saying her very first words in public, exclaiming “pop” while chasing balloons, before addressing the Duke as “Dada.” Both youngsters were enraptured by a balloon artist, whom little George briefly baffled by requesting a “volcano,” a career-first for the man. Luckily, he was able to oblige.
DAY 7 HAIDA GWAII
On their second-to-last day in British Columbia, Will and Kate flew to the breathtaking island of Haida Gwaii. Hopping in a First Nations Haida war canoe paddled by 12 members of the Skidegate Saints men’s basketball team, they pushed off from Skidegate Landing, making for Kaay Llnagaay and the Haida Heritage Centre and Museum. Here, they were greeted by various chiefs, elders and children, before taking in some traditional songs, dances and prayers. From there, they toured the new Haida Gwaii Hospital, and spoke with staff and residents of the maternity ward, before officially opening the hospital via a plaque-unveiling with B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake. Finally, it was on to the open sea aboard the Highland Ranger fishing vessel alongside kids from the Skidegate Youth Centre; the Duke and Duchess managed to reel in a salmon and got up close and personal with the contents of a crab trap.
DAY 8 VICTORIA
At last, there was another busy day in Victoria, starting off at the Cridge Centre for the Family, where droves of youngsters and their parents lined the driveway, eager for a few words with William and Kate. After touring the facility, the Royal couple happily obliged, handshaking their way back to the motorcade and Premier Clark, who presented them with a pair of Canucks jerseys for George and Charlotte. Next stop was Ogden Point in Victoria Harbour and a meeting with reps from the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre at the Breakwater Cafe, before going for a sail aboard the tall ship Pacific Grace with members of the Sail and Life Training Society. We caught our last glimpse of Will, Kate, Charlotte and George as they walked down a dock in Victoria lined with dignitaries and soldiers, before boarding their seaplane—leaving behind a harbour full of fans and a whole lot of memories.
For photos from the entire Royal Tour, pick up a copy of TV Week magazine, on newsstands October 14th.