After a week that took them from the UBC Okanagan campus to First Nations lodges in Bella Bella and Haida Gwaii, the Royals wrapped up their trip to Western Canada this weekend with another busy day in Victoria.
The first stop was The Cridge Centre for the Family, a facility offering aid and housing to families and seniors dealing with disabilities, domestic violence and financial issues. Young children and their parents lined the entrance and exit, eager for a glimpse and—dare to dream—a handshake with the Duke and Duchess. Fortunately, after a quick tour of the facility, the Royal couple gave their adoring fans ample time, meeting-and-greeting their way down the facility’s long driveway.
“She’s so beautiful,” marvelled a woman in the crowd as Kate came into view, smartly adorned in dark pants and white blazer from Zara, a cream top from H&M and tweed J. Crew heels. It’s not the words themselves that made the moment memorable, but the thoroughly awestruck tone in which they were uttered. Seeing the Duchess in a magazine is one thing, seeing her in person is quite another.
As they neared their motorcade, they were presented with flowers by two young girls, and two tiny, personalized Canucks jerseys for George and Charlotte, courtesy of Premier Christy Clark.
Next stop was Ogden Point and the Breakwater Café, for a meeting with representatives of the Kelty Mental Health Resources Centre, before they took to the sea in the tall ship Pacific Grace for a jaunt around the Inner Harbour with a group of young sailors from SALTS (Sail and Life Training Society). Spectators lined the seawall to see them off. An hour later, as they prepared to dock at Ship Point, William was spotted helping the SALTS crew lower their sails, while Kate was charged with steering the good ship Grace into port.
Their feet back on dry land, the Royals were once again greeted by throngs of British Columbians. Kate posed for a selfie with one lucky fan, while William received a teddy bear from another. The mood of the crowd was summed up nicely by one woman who vowed that she would “never wash her hand again” now that she’d locked palms with Will and/or Kate.
Finally, it was time to say “Bon Voyage.” After leaving the seaside to pick up the kids, the motorcade pulled back into the Victoria parking lot around 4 p.m. Here, we got a rare, final glimpse of Charlotte and George (who once again gifted us with a wave), as their parents walked them down the dock and onto a seaplane, flanked by the likes of Christy Clark, Governor General David Johnston and Victoria mayor Lisa Helps, as well as the military Departure Guard.
For most royalists and journalists, this marked the end of a long, hectic week. But for a handful of us, there was one more brush with royalty in store. It turns out that, for our return flight to Vancouver, we were booked on the very same plane that had just two hours earlier whisked Will, Kate, George and Charlotte away from Victoria.
As we were filing into the tiny cabin, a crew member pointed out where they’d been sitting, and one woman dashed to the front, jokingly but definitively making it clear she had dibs. She sat down in Charlotte’s seat before jumping over to Kate’s; the pilot kindly offered to preserve the moment with a picture. As it happens, she’d been out amongst the masses that day and was lucky enough to shake William’s hand, but just missed scoring a moment with Kate; based on the smile plastered across her face, sharing a throne with the Duchess was ample consolation.