Britain's William to take charge of Canadian helicopter

4th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Prince William was to take the controls of a Sea King helicopter for an emergency water landing drill, on the fifth day of a landmark Canadian tour with his wife Catherine.

William, whose day job is a Royal Air Force search and rescue pilot in Anglesey, Wales, was taking part in the so-called "waterbirding" exercise midway through the British royal couple's official visit, after arriving for a private reception in Charlottetown, capital of Prince Edward Island, on Sunday evening.

"Our plan is His Highness will be at the commands of the Sea King," for the drill near historic Dalvay-by-the-Sea, at the east end of Prince Edward Island, said a spokesman for the helicopter unit.

The controlled landing procedure was developed in Canada in the event of engine failure while military helicopters scout for enemy submarines or during search and rescue operations.

The couple is also expected to compete in Chinese dragon boat races and later observe search and rescue operations from the deck of a coast guard ship.

A children's choir and a crowd of 15,000 welcomed the royal couple to Prince Edward Island's legislature and birthplace of the Canadian federation, waving placards "Kate can I borrow your dress," as a light rain started to come down.

William and Kate, in a cream pencil dress by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen, arrived from Quebec province as part of their nine-day tour of Canada.

"It is quite a moment for Catherine and me to be standing here in Atlantic Canada, in front of Province House, where Canadian Federation was forged," the prince said.

The duke and duchess of Cambridge also shared a few words on the steps of Province House with actors posing as Canada's founding fathers who first gathered at the site in 1864 and conceived of the idea of the nation of Canada. Confederation would follow in 1867.

Two girls later gave the smiling and laughing Kate flowers and the couple glad-handed with fans before taking a carriage ride down the main street.

Their stop in Eastern Canada comes after a somewhat rocky reception in French-speaking Quebec.

The couple had charmed a crush of well-wishers in Quebec City on Sunday but were rushed through their visit of Montreal a day earlier as police lines kept republican protests away from their first official foreign trip as newlyweds.

Demonstrators had promised to top the angry protests in Montreal on Saturday in Quebec City.

Riot police were called to keep the peace outside a Montreal children's hospital the royal couple visited, and at the Quebec tourism and hotel business institute where they took a cooking class.

But barricades kept protesters away from the royal tour in Quebec City.

While out of earshot of the prince and princess, Patrick Bourgeois of the Quebec Resistance Network, said that "one cannot pardon the crimes of the British empire in India, Australia and Quebec."

Britain conquered the former French colony of Quebec in 1763, but its culture and language survived, and today it is a bastion of French culture in North America.

British rule, however, still evokes resentment in some quarters of the Canadian province.

As a member of the Commonwealth, Canada's official head of state is the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, who is represented by a governor general.

Monday evening William and the former Kate Middleton will move on to Yellowknife in Canada's Northwest Territories for aboriginal sports and then Calgary for a rodeo before leaving Canada and heading for Los Angeles on July 9.

© 2011 AFP

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