Prince William, Kate visit Quebec
Sunday, July 3, 2011
MONTREAL (AP) — Prince William and Kate were met by a small group of protesters Saturday in the French-speaking province of Quebec as the royal couple visited a children’s hospital during a nine-day journey through Canada on their first official overseas trip.
About 35 protesters, including members of the separatist group Reseau de Resistance du Quebecois, or Quebecker Resistance Network, stood outside Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre in Montreal chanting “A united people will never be vanquished.”
They carried signs that read “Parasites go home,” “War Criminals,” and “Your fortune came from the blood of our ancestors.”
“It’s a symbol of English dominance over Quebec,” said 30-year-old lawyer Antoine Pich of the couple’s visit.
Dressed in black capes, the protesters were drumming and booing as the royal couple’s motorcade pulled up to the hospital. William was whisked into the hospital as Kate stepped out of the car and smiled at the crowd before going in.
The demonstrations were a rare moment of criticism aimed at the young royals, who have for the most part been welcomed with open arms by Canadians eager to catch a glimpse of the glamorous newlyweds.
The protesters were outnumbered about 10 to one by William and Kate supporters gathered outside the hospital. “Give me one good reason why you should hate someone. They’re good people,” said Elyane Lafontaine, 51.
Saturday was the couple’s quietest and least frenetic day since beginning their tour on Thursday. The trip unfolded with two days of rousing crowds and seas of well-wishers clamoring to catch a glimpse of royalty during the couple’s stay in Ottawa, the country’s English-speaking capital city.
The newlyweds were there to visit with cancer patients and the hospital’s neo-natal care facility. The Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre is the largest mother-child center in Canada.
Protesters were angry that Canada still has ties to the monarchy. Queen Elizabeth II is still the country’s figurative head of state and new Canadian citizens still pledge allegiance to the Queen during their swearing-in ceremony.
Michael Behiels, an Ottawa University professor, said there was much hostility between the French and the English in the years following Great Britain’s 1759 Conquest of New France — which is present day Quebec.
The continued presence of the monarchy atop Canada’s constitutional order is a reminder, after 250-plus years, that the country’s two founding countries formerly waged war against each other.
Before heading to the French-speaking city, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge started the third day of their tour in Ottawa, Ontario, with a tree-planting ceremony at Government House that has become a royal family tradition and a visit to the Canadian War Museum.
Saturday’s small, low-key gatherings in Ottawa contrasted with Friday’s celebration of Canada Day when Prince William and Kate stole the show as they were feted by Canadian leaders and cheered by tens of thousands who lined the streets to get a glimpse of the royal couple.
Prince William, wearing a dark blue suit, and Kate, dressed in a grey, fitted knee-length Kensington dress by British designer Catherine Walker, each wielded a shovel as they helped plant a Canadian hemlock — a tree known for its longevity meant to symbolize their marriage.
Their tree was the 17th planted by a member of the British royal family in a tradition dating back to 1939. Prince William’s parents, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, planted trees on previous visits at Rideau Hall, the official residence of both the Canadian monarch and Governor General, the queen’s representative in Canada.
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