Britain's royal newlyweds tour Ottawa on Canada Day

14:22, July 03, 2011      

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Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate attend the 144th Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, on July 1, 2011. The Royal couple is on a nine-day official visit to Canada, their first overseas trip since being married.(Xinhua/Christopher Pike)

British royal newlyweds Prince William and Kate -- the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge -- won loud cheers from an estimated 300,000 people while touring Ottawa on Canada's national holiday.

The royal couple appeared on Parliament Hill twice during Canada Day festivities on Friday. Many of the people in the crowd camped all night on the lawn of the Parliament buildings to secure a good place to watch the arrival of the couple.

William wore a navy blue suit and red tie. Kate wore a creamy white Reiss dress, a jeweled maple-leaf brooch on loan from the Queen, a fancy red hat from Lock and Co. adorned with a fabric maple leaf, and red shoes. The brooch was the same one worn by the Queen when she first visited Canada in 1951, and her visit to Ottawa last year.

The couple, who arrived in a vintage horse-drawn carriage, was greeted by a cannon salute and the screams of two Canadian CF-18 fighter jets overhead.

The prince and his wife stood alongside the Centennial Flame as the band played Canada's national anthem and "God Save the Queen".

After the governor general inspected the honor guard, the dignitaries walked to the main stage and were entertained by a number of performers. As they walked, several people shouted "Happy Birthday Diana" in reference to the 50th birthday of William's mother, the late Princess Diana.

Many also chanted "Will and Kate" as the couple proceeded to the stage.One woman carried a sign that read: "Will and Kate -- Worth the Wait."

William told the hushed crowd that he was excited to have the opportunity to get to know Canadians better.

"To be here on Canada Day -- a day of unity, a day of coming together as families, and as a nation -- is even more special for us," he said.

The duke conveyed the good wishes of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth.

The Queen has taken a great interest in the themes and program of our tour, and looks forward to following our progress as it unfolds," he said.

The rulers of Britain have been the legal heads of state of Canada since 1763, when much of the country was ceded by France to Britain after British forces seized Quebec in the Seven Years War. George VI was the first reigning sovereign to visit Canada, touring the country in 1939, just before Britain declared war on Germany.

The Duke of Cambridge made special mention of Canada's military, which is returning from Afghanistan next year.

"Our armed forces have always led the world in rallying to the defense of freedom," he said.

The royal couple watched a selection of Canadian musical supporters and heard speeches from Canadian political leaders before returning to Rideau Hall, the residence of the Governor General, to rest and change clothes.

They returned to the evening show with the duchess wearing a purple Issa jersey dress.

Before the show, they watched as 25 new citizens were sworn in at a museum near Parliament Hill.

Before the noon festivities began on Parliament Hill, some people who had been on the hill for hours prior to the event succumbed to the heat and bright sunlight. At least one person was taken away on a wheeled stretcher.

After the speeches and performances were over, the prince and his wife greeted the performers on stage and then greeted dozens of people standing behind the reinforced barricades lining either side of the Parliament Hill lawns.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper praised Canada as a strong country that has been able to weather hard times and has much to celebrate.

"We are especially blessed because we have very special guests," he said. "They are the young newlyweds, the best known in the world, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge."

He also said the royals represent "our unbreakable link" to the past.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were greeted with enormous warmth as they started their first official overseas visit here on Thursday. The couple will stay in Canada for nine days and are scheduled to tour seven cities in four provinces and one territory before heading to California on July 8.

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