The Royal Visits

The Royal Visits

June 29, 2017 9:29amET

With the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall about to begin their latest tour of Canada, watch The Royal Visits – CPAC’s 2011 look back at the most prominent royal visits to Canada since 1786:


Also watch CPAC and for highlights as Charles and Camilla travel to Iqaluit, Trenton and Wellington, Ont., Ottawa, and Gatineau, Que. between today and Saturday.

British royals have visited Canada for more than 200 years, from official tours to family vacations to military deployments.

  • The Duke of Cambridge wasn’t the first Prince William to visit Canada. The first recorded royal visitor was Prince William, third son of George III and his eventual successor (as William IV), who docked at Halifax, St. John’s, and other Newfoundland settlements in the 1780s while commanding the HMS Pegasus. As a naval captain, Prince William even acted as a surrogate judge during a two-month stay in Placentia in 1786. His younger brother, Prince Edward (the Duke of Kent), was posted to Canada during the 1790s, rising to become commander-in-chief of the British army in North America.
  • The 1860 visit by Edward, Prince of Wales, drew huge crowds across Newfoundland, the Maritimes, and the Province of Canada. He became king in 1901 following the death of his mother, Queen Victoria. His son, the Duke of Cornwall and York, travelled to Canada that same year with his wife. Plans were already subdued because of Victoria’s recent death. And then U.S. President William McKinley was assassinated, adding to the tragic nature of the Royal Visit.
  • The 1939 royal visit is considered the greatest in Canadian history. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth landed at Wolfe’s Cove on the RMS Empress of Australia. This made the former the first reigning monarch to step on Canadian soil. The cheering crowds from coast-to-coast provided a happy respite from troubles in Europe; Great Britain declared war on Germany just over two months after the royal couple departed.
  • When Queen Elizabeth II read the Speech from the Throne on Oct. 14, 1957, it marked the first time a sitting monarch opened Canada’s Parliament in person. She returned two years later for the longest royal visit in history: a 45-day tour with stops in every province and territory.
  • Future visits would be based around specific occasions or events. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip have been to Canada more than 20 times in the past half-century, from Expo 67 to the 1982 constitutional patriation. Their latest visit, in 2010 to Halifax, Winnipeg, Ottawa, and Toronto, was deemed a “roaring success” by the Daily Telegraph.

Prince Charles and wife Camilla in Winnipeg on May 21, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Lipnowski

  • Prince Charles and his new bride Diana attracted enormous crowds in 1983 while marking Newfoundland’s 400th anniversary. When the Prince of Wales returned in 2009 with his second wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, only 57 people showed up for an event in Cupids. They have since toured in 2012 and 2014.
  • The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (William and Kate) have made two official tours since marrying in 2011: the summer of 2011 and autumn of 2016.

-Andrew Thomson

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: Edward, Prince of Wales, at Charlottetown’s Government House in 1860. William Chase/Library and Archives Canada