It was Prince Charles’s County for a day, as the heir to the British throne continued his sesquicentennial visit to Canada in a slice of Eastern Ontario with deep historic ties to the monarchy.
The giddy crowds in Prince Edward County that greeted Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, belied recent polls showing a decline in support for the monarchy across Canada, and little enthusiasm for the Prince of Wales in particular.
At CFB Trenton, and at a farmer’s market in the town of Wellington, residents of the County, as it is known, turned out in numbers to show support for the Crown – not for the first time.
This is Loyalist country, settled in the late 18th century by colonists exiled from the United States for their opposition to the War of Independence and their devotion to George III, Charles’s great-great-great-great-great-grandfather.
After the royal couple visited CFB Trenton – where they met military veterans supported by one of the Prince’s charities and witnessed a parachute demonstration – they arrived in Wellington, where hundreds lined the main street waving Canadian flags and even a few Union Jacks.
Later, the crowd would strike up a spontaneous rendition of God Save the Queen.
“It’s a loyalist county,” said Gerry den Hartog, a resident of nearby Picton, explaining the strong turnout.
His wife, Linda Austin, was born in London and considers herself a keen royal watcher.
“Love my monarchy,” she said, sporting an elaborate white hat. “I’ve seen the Queen very close up, I’ve seen the Queen Mother very close up … but never Charles and Camilla, so this is a treat.”
As the Prince shook hands with supporters, a British drizzle began resolving into a brilliantly sunny day.
The visit takes place against the backdrop of waning support for the monarchy in Canada, despite the popularity-buoying effect of Prince William’s handsome young family and the success of the Netflix series The Crown.
An Ipsos poll from last December found 53 per cent of Canadians believe the country should sever formal ties with the British crown when the Queen’s reign ends – up 10 points from earlier in the year.
With its few ardent royalists and republicans outnumbered by swathes of the indifferent, Canada could be a “proving ground for the Prince’s ideas of how his reign might play out,” wrote one of his biographers, Catherine Mayer.
Still, if Canada is cool to the idea of Charles as king, you would not have known it in Wellington on Friday.
As the Prince began making the rounds of the farmers’ market, he stopped to greet a decorated army veteran, Wilbert Lunan, who fought in the Korean War and now lives in Picton.
“How are you keeping?” the Prince said, shaking Mr. Lunan’s hand.
Mr. Lunan later said he had lined up in 1951 to see the Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, during a visit to Winnipeg, but that over the years he had been “losing faith” in the monarchy.
His chat with the Prince, however, “brought it all back.”
“It meant a lot to me,” Mr. Lunan said. “And him recognizing my medals. It meant a lot to me.”
Between conversations with local business owners, the Prince stopped to shake hands and exchange small talk with supporters.
Three white-haired friends, Marilyn Hackett, Judy Benway and Inge Scott, came away from their encounter with the Prince giggling like schoolgirls.
“We forgot to curtsy,” Ms. Hackett cried.
For her part, Ms. Austin looked flustered after getting her chance to shake the Prince’s hand.
“He shook my hand, that’s the subtle difference,” she said. “I wasn’t seeking it. … Oh my goodness, oh my goodness.
“The day the future king shook our hands. …”
The Prince and Duchess will celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial in Ottawa on Saturday.
Source: theglobeandmail com
Tags: Prince Charles, Canada, Tour, Future King, King, Future