The Royal Fab 4 Take Canada! William, Kate, George and Charlotte Touch Down for Their Big Tour
Their first tour as a family of four officially kicks off today
Canada is getting the royal treatment!
Their Royal Canadian Air Force jet landed in Victoria, British Columbia, on Saturday afternoon. At one point, Charlotte could be seen peeking out of a plane window. After deplaning, the family met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Trudeau and other dignitaries before heading to Victoria for the rest of their royal duties.
Kate wore a royal blue Jenny Packham suit with a matching hat and Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond maple leaf brooch. Charlotte, meanwhile, wore a light blue dress with a matching bow in her hair as she was carried by Kate.
William and Kate both held George’s hands as the deplaned. George wore a blue sweater and shorts with knee socks.
For William and Kate, the week-long visit is a perfect opportunity to introduce their children to a major Commonwealth realm before school schedules “make these things difficult later on,” their spokesman said at a pre-tour briefing.
The family will be based at Government House in Victoria, and the couple – in what aides call a “hub and spoke” model – will head out from there for visits before returning at the end of the day. (There is one exception when the couple goes to Yukon for one night, leaving the children with nanny Maria Turrion Borrallo, who is a key member of the couple’s 12-strong entourage.)
The royal parents have a jam-packed schedule with than 30 engagements, meaning Kate has had to pack a a suitcase full of carefully chosen looks.
They hope to take George and Charlotte to at least outing – most likely to be a children’s party for military families on Thursday. “A group of military families have been invited to share what should be a really lovely morning with plenty of surprises for the children,” the couple’s spokesman said at the palace briefing.
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The tour, which is expected to be mostly casual and sporty – watch for mountain scenes and even fishing! – will see them take in everything from “the bustling global city of Vancouver to the remote and beautiful Bella Bella, home to less than 2,000 people,” their spokesman explained. “Along the way they will meet as many Canadians as possible, and will help celebrate Canada’s First Nations communities, its arts and culture, pristine and beautiful environment, and its compassionate and innovative charitable sector.”
Shortly after landing today, as George and Charlotte settled in for the night, the royal couple headed to British Columbia’s Parliament Buildings, where they officially opened their tour by paying respects at Victoria’s Cenotaph and unveiling a new plaque paying tribute to the veterans of Canada’s involvement in the Afghanistan conflict.
The official welcome to Canada was made by an honor guard and included performances by the Lekwungen Traditional Dancers along with the Esquimalt Singers and Dancers and Victoria’s Children’s Choir. Thousands of well-wishers gathered on the Parliament Buildings’ lawn and the nearby Victoria waterfront to catch a glimpse of the royal couple.
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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave remarks welcoming the Cambridges and promising that “wherever you go, Canadians will make you feel right at home.”
Prince William then shared his warm memories from he and Kate’s first visit to Canada as newlyweds.
“Catherine and I are delighted to be back in Canada,” he said. “When we were here last time, we had been married only three months.The warm welcome that you gave us at that important moment in our lives meant a lot to us – and we have never forgotten it.”
He added that he was thankful Prince George and Princess Charlotte could attend this visit, “beginning their own lifetime of friendship with this wonderful country.”
At the ceremony’s conclusion, the couple chatted with members of the crowd, beginning work on what William explained was his and Kate’s mission for the tour, to “meet as many people from as many walks of life as we can while we’re here.”
William stopped to chat with 13-year-old William Rithaler, of Saltspring Island about his schooling and involvement in sports.
“He was nice,” William told PEOPLE. “I didnt know he’d have a British accent!”
“He was very polite and upbeat and even kind of relaxed,” William’s mom, Loretta Rithaler, added.
“[Both William and Kate] seemed relaxed,” she continued. “Obviously their day started a few hours ago too they’ve left their children behind now and scooted off to this event and you think, ‘Oh my goodness their day is just beginning.’ So for them to have that much enthusiasm and make people feel welcome I think is very good.”
This is the couple’s second major tour of the year, following their visit to India and Bhutan in April. And the travel isn’t over yet – Kate is off to the Netherlands for a day next month, while William heads to Vietnam in November.