William and Kate land in Calgary for rodeo

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After a whirlwind week charming the Canadian public, Prince William and Catherine arrived Thursday in Calgary for rodeo chuck wagon races and bull riding.

At the last stop on their nine-day tour of Canada and first official foreign trip together since tying the knot in May, the duke and duchess of Cambridge were to take in the city's annual Stampede rodeo, billed as "the greatest outdoor show on Earth."

The festival and agricultural exhibition harkens back to the lonesome cowboys of the West riding the open ranges, attracting one million spectators annually to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

William and Catherine, who wore a bright yellow dress, arrived by helicopter from a romantic getaway at the rustic Skoki Lodge, built in the 1930s in the majestic Rocky Mountains about a dozen kilometers (seven miles) from Lake Louise in Banff National Park.

The nearby lake is named after Louise Caroline Alberta, the fourth daughter of William's famous ancestor Queen Victoria.

According to public broadcaster CBC, plumbing was only just installed in the Skoki wooden cabin a few weeks prior to the couple's visit.

At the Calgary airport, William and Catherine were greeted by throngs of cheering crowds.

Some royal fans had camped out in tents and sleeping bags since Tuesday hoping for a glimpse of the couple.

Calgary also handed out some 5,600 wristbands giving locals access to two areas which William and Catherine were to visit on Thursday. Some of them could be found for sale on the Internet for hundreds of dollars.

"I absolutely adore Will and Kate," Katrina Bowman, who got a free wristband, told the Calgary Sun. "I was up all night watching their wedding... and I just knew I had to see them when they came to Calgary."

Leaving the tarmac with gifts of white, broad-rimmed cowboy hats made locally from rabbit fur, (but not worn), the royal couple headed for the rodeo, and later to dine with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

In the morning, they will ride in the Stampede opening parade with 850 "parade-broke" horses, bands and floats, cowboys and clowns, and local Woodland Cree, Chipewyan, Blackfoot, Blood and Peigan tribesmen in traditional regalia with their beaded horses.

More than 300,000 well-wishers are expected along the parade route downtown on Friday, according to officials.

Finally, the couple leave Canada on Friday after a visit to Calgary's zoo, and head for Los Angeles for a three-day visit to the US West Coast state of California.

© 2011 AFP

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