ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Prince Charles said he was “deeply touched” by the warm welcome afforded him and the Duchess of Cornwall on Monday as the royal couple began their first trip to Canada together.
Charles, who arrived with Camilla at a welcoming ceremony in St. John’s, said he was eager to meet Canadians as he starts his 11-day tour of the country.
“I cannot tell you how delighted I am to have this opportunity to pay, I can hardly believe, my 15th visit to these shores, and that is by any measure something rather special,” Charles said at the ceremony at Mile One Centre.
“But more special still, if I may say so, is the opportunity to introduce my wife to Canada for her first-ever visit.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper greeted the couple, saying many Canadians were keenly anticipating their arrival.
“Given our long attachment to the royal family, these visits have always been regarded as homecomings by many Canadians,” Harper said.
“Our home is your home.”
Harper also wished Charles and Camilla well in their travels throughout the country.
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams said it was fitting that the couple would launch their trip in his province.
“Given your great love of the arts, I can think of no better place for your Royal Highnesses to begin your Canadian journey,” Williams said.
Charles and Camilla arrived earlier in the day at the St. John’s International Airport in clear, cold weather and under a full moon rising.
They came down the stairs of an Airbus separately, with Charles leading the way, and were greeted by national and provincial politicians as Camilla leaned down to receive a bouquet of flowers from a little girl.
The motorcade sped off almost immediately to take the couple to Mile One Centre, where they were officially greeted by Harper, Williams, Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean and provincial Lt.-Gov. John Crosbie.
There was also a gun salute atop Signal Hill to recognize their arrival.
It’s the 15th time Charles has toured Canada, but the first time with his wife Camilla by his side.
Charles and Camilla will be in the province until Wednesday.
They will also be making stops in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec.
They will wind up their visit Nov. 12 in Ottawa.
Charles was last in Canada in 2001 when he spent six days touring Ontario, Saskatchewan and the Yukon.