Royals

Kate and William get to grips with Vancouver

The second day of the Canadian Royal tour started with a seaplane arrival and ended with a hovercraft departure as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge enjoyed an action-packed day in Vancouver.

The second day of the Canadian Royal tour in Vancouver started with a seaplane arrival and ended with a hovercraft departure as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge packed in a frantic day trying to get to the heart of some of the city’s most important projects.

Sheway – a First Nations word meaning “growth” – is a charity in Downtown Vancouver which supports vulnerable mothers and pregnant women battling with addiction and other issues. Kate was particularly keen to see the work of the organisation, as the link between addiction and family breakdown has been a focus of her recent charity work.

The royals meet a baby as she is weighed during a visit to Sheway.

Prior to Sheway’s inception in 1993, mothers with substance use issues living in the Downtown East Side had their babies removed at birth. These babies were frequently premature and underweight. Today, 88 per cent of the babies are born full term and are of average birth weight. In addition, 74 per cent of the children born today leave the hospital in their mother’s care.

Kate arrived wearing a red and white Alexander McQueen dress, scarlet suede heels and a matching red clutch bag and was greeted by Sheway’s five founding partners. Ron Abrahams, a physician who works there, told William how Princess Diana had opened the Women’s Reproductive Maternity Service in Glasgow in 1990, which Sheway has modelled itself on. “It’s wonderful to have you here after all the work your mother did in this field. It’s like full circle for us with your family.”

William smiled and looked visibly moved as he listened to Mr Abrahams talk about Diana. “He was really quite chuffed,” said the doctor.

The Duke and Duchess were then shown round the centre. They watched a “vest-making” session for teddy bears led by one of Sheway’s Aboriginal family support workers. Five-year old Hailey Cain presented Kate with two of the teddies from the session. “Thank you so much, Charlotte will love this, she loves her teddies,” said Kate. “George too, he’s a big fan, thank you so much,” William added.

Prince William gets a warm greeting from the locals.

As the couple left, a well-wisher asked after George and Charlotte. “They’re doing well,” said Kate. “I just can’t believe how quickly they’re growing, it’s amazing how the time goes.”

Next stop was the Immigration Services Society of British Columbia Welcome House, accompanied by The Prime Minister of Canada and Mrs Trudeau who arrived first to rapturous cheers and even screaming. Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Gregoire, are incredibly popular in British Columbia and greeted like rock stars by their public. Inside the building, they went upstairs and met with staff members and refugees, seated in chairs in a semi-circle. Trudeau spoke about his government’s efforts to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees, but said the “real story” was the Canadians who volunteered their time at organisations like ISS and families across the country who sponsored refugeees. William nodded. Trudeau and Gregoire Trudeau were then introduced to a Syrian family of five who are staying in the welcome house. Refugee families are able to stay at the centre temporarily while they get on their feet.

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit the Kitsilano Coastguard Station in Vanier Park.

After having a private lunch with the Trudeaus in the Telus Garden building, William and Kate travelled to the 24th floor where they were the guests of honour at a reception for young Canadian leaders where the Prime Minister and the Prince worked one side of the room, and Kate and Gregoire Trudeau worked the other.

The young people, from various backgrounds and fields, looked thrilled as they shook hands and chatted with royalty. William and Trudeau chatted with members of Canada’s Olympics women’s rugby and swimming teams, as well as a triathlete from the Paralympics. One rugby player asked William about his past playing the sport, and he replied, “Yes, I did play rugby. I wasn’t, obviously, as good as you guys,” drawing laughs. “I tried my best,” he added. Trudeau then teased him about the Canadian women’s team beating the English team in the bronze medal match. “Oh really? You trashed the UK?” William asked, smiling and shaking his head.

The royals watch children play in a sand pit during a visit to the Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia New Welcome Centre during their Royal Tour of Canada.

Afterward, 20-year-old swimmer Aurelie Rivard admitted she and her fellow athletes were nervous and excited to meet the Prince. “We all had moist hands,” she said with a laugh. “We feel really honoured and privileged and it’s something we’ll never forget.” She won three gold medals and was the flag-bearer for the closing ceremony at the 2016 Paralympic Games. Rivard said William asked her about her experience at the Paralympics and in Rio de Janeiro in general. “It’s still hard to realise what happened. He’s super nice. We just chatted with him for a little bit. He seems interested in what he does and what we do as well.”

The Prince was presented with a drum from Hjalmer Winston, 23, from Vancouver, whose family is from the Nuu Chah Nulth First Nations peoples. He played the couple a song written by his brother Timothy Masso about a kingfisher bird and also gave the royals two grass baskets for George and Charlotte. George’s basket had a whaling canoe on it and Charlotte’s a thunderbird. William said about the drum: “I will play it.” And Kate added: “George is going to love that.”

Hjalmer said afterwards: “When I went from home representing my community they said ‘you have to bring a gift’. “There’s a very fractured history from our two big nations but it’s really important to move forward, not to look back to a negative past but to move forward in a really good way.”

Kate meets royal fans.

Another young girl who was in the reception was 13-year-old Tru Wilson, from Vancouver, a transgender girl who took on her local school board and won the right to attend school and use bathroom facilities as a girl. She did not get the chance to speak to the royals but was praised by Justin Trudeau in his speech, who said he was “with her”. She said: “I’ve done work in the LGBT community and been trying to help as much as I can. “It was amazing [to be praised by the Prime Minister].”

Her mum Michelle Wilson said about William and Kate: “I feel like they’re a new generation of royals who are talking about topics that haven’t been discussed openly by the royal family before including issues that affect our family like LGBTQ rights and support and women’s rights and it’s really wonderful thing to see. “I feel like it’s a beautiful transition from what Lady Di started years ago where there’s a new way of the community to experience the royals.”

Kate with a local woman at the Kitsilano Coastguard Station in Vanier Park.

The final engagement of the day saw The Duke and Duchess, Prime Minister and Mrs Trudeau learn more about the first responders who work together to keep Vancouverites safe and visit the Kitsilano Coastguard Station. From here Kate and William climbed on board the Coast Guard’s hovercraft before flying back to Victoria to have a family dinner with George and Charlotte.

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