By Morgan Lawrie in Montreal
Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, will visit St. John’s, N.L., Ottawa and the Yellowknife area during a whirlwind three-day tour of Canada in May that will focus on Indigenous reconciliation and climate change, Clarence House and the Canadian government announced Tuesday.
The detailed itinerary released online outlines a packed schedule filled with military ceremonies, meetings with Indigenous communities, plaque unveilings and stops at local businesses.
“The Prince of Wales has long believed that we need to learn from Indigenous peoples around the world how better we should live in and care for nature and the planet,” read a statement from Clarence House, the official London residence of Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
“Canada is seeing the impact of climate change and so this tour will highlight an emphasis on learning from Indigenous Peoples in Canada as well as a focus on working with businesses to find a more sustainable way of living with global warming.”
The tour kicks off May 17 in St. John’s, where there will be a welcome ceremony, a trip to a fishing village and a visit to the official residence of Lt.-Gov. Judy May Foote. The stop at the lieutenant-governor’s residence will include a “solemn moment of reflection and prayer” with Indigenous and community leaders at Heart Garden, which commemorates Indigenous residential school victims and survivors.
On the second day, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Gov. Gen. Mary Simon in Ottawa. The couple will visit the National War Memorial and meet with members of Canada’s Ukrainian community. They will also attend a viewing of the RCMP Musical Ride — a troop of police horse riders who perform intricate formations and drills set to music — and they will participate in an evening reception at Rideau Hall, the Governor General’s official residence.
The third day, in the Northwest Territories, includes a visit to the First Nation community of Dettah and discussions on climate change. Camilla will also visit a local school “to learn about their efforts towards ensuring all students and staff are able to learn their Indigenous language,” Clarence House said.
The royal visit will culminate with a celebration in honour of Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee in the Northwest Territories’ capital, Yellowknife, on May 19.
Donald Booth, the Canadian secretary to the Queen, told a news briefing Tuesday the government is “absolutely delighted” that the couple accepted the invitation to visit.
“This tour will be a wonderful way to showcase Canada’s rich landscapes, the warmth and hospitality of Canadians, and an opportunity for their royal highnesses to reacquaint, meet new people and also to learn about the Canadian experience,” Booth said.
This will be the 19th visit to Canada for the Prince of Wales and the fifth for the Duchess of Cornwall. Their most recent visit was in the summer of 2017, when they travelled to Iqaluit; Ottawa, Trenton and Wellington in Ontario; and Gatineau, Que.
Carolyn Harris, an author and royal commentator, said the tour will be an opportunity for the heir to the throne to emphasize his connections to Canada and its people before he eventually assumes the crown.
“Certainly there’s going to be a lot of interest in how Charles and Camilla relate to Canadians and how they set the tone for the future,” Harris said in an interview Tuesday.
The visit comes amid increased scrutiny of other royal tours, including a recent trip to the Caribbean by Prince William and his wife, Kate, that drew criticism for perpetuating images of Britain’s colonial rule.
Harris said that while this trip is ostensibly to celebrate the Queen’s 70 years of service, it’s not taking place over the Victoria Day weekend — perhaps to avoid those same pitfalls. Instead, it’s a weekday visit with a very strong focus on current events, as exemplified by the meeting with Ukrainian Canadians and the discussions on climate change, she said.
“Although this royal tour will be placed in the context of Prince Charles’s long relationship with Canada, dating back to 1970, the events on the itinerary are very focused on current issues in the 21st century,” she said.
Harris said the events on the itinerary reflect Prince Charles’ focus on climate change, the military and support for young entrepreneurs through the Prince’s Trust charity. The trip also promotes the Duchess of Cornwall’s interests, Harris said, which include youth literacy and advocacy for domestic violence survivors.
Harris said that despite the fact the Queen is 96 and is mostly carrying out her engagements online, it’s premature to call Charles’s visit a pre-coronation tour.
“The Queen mum was still undertaking public engagements at the age of 100,” she said in reference to Queen Elizabeth’s mother, who died in 2002. “So certainly, we don’t know exactly when the transition from one reign to another is going to be.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 26, 2022.