British royals put down roots in Ottawa

2nd July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain's royal stars Prince William and bride Catherine marked their first official trip abroad as newlyweds Saturday by planting a tree in Canada's capital symbolizing their everlasting "love and marriage."

In front of a small crowd of well-wishers -- a marked change from the throng of hundreds of thousands who celebrated Canada Day with the royals on Friday -- the couple strolled among commemorative maples, oaks and conifers that dot the grounds of Rideau Hall, the official residence of Canada's governor general.

To applause, they shoveled soil onto the base a Canadian hemlock planted to commemorate the couple's nine-day royal tour of the country.

In 1907, then-governor general Earl Grey planted the first tree in the arboretum, a young maple to mark the first official trip to Ottawa by Japan's Prince Fushimi.

In the century since, planting ceremonial trees has become a Canadian tradition symbolizing friendship and international cooperation.

"This tree (planted by William and Kate) will serve as an ongoing symbol of the love and marriage of their royal highnesses," officials said in a statement. The hemlock is known to live up to 800 years.

Afterwards the couple chatted with an ailing man whose last wish reportedly was to meet the royal pair, and received a few words of advice from a couple married for 50 years.

Kate, wearing a grey Kensington dress by Catherine Walker, and William also paused for a solemn moment at a tree planted in honor of his late mother Diana, who would have turned 50 on Friday.

The duke and duchess of Cambridge later attended a reception with veterans and war brides at the Canadian War Museum and unveiled a mural before heading to Montreal for the second leg of their cross-Canada tour.

© 2011 AFP

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