Royal dream comes true

For a group of five Central Albertans a 10-minute brush with royalty is one they won’t soon forget.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge greet well wishers at the Calgary zoo on the last day of their cross-Canada tour in Calgary on Friday.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge greet well wishers at the Calgary zoo on the last day of their cross-Canada tour in Calgary on Friday.

For a group of five Central Albertans a 10-minute brush with royalty is one they won’t soon forget.

On Friday, three young girls and two staff members at the Youth and Volunteer Centre in Red Deer were given the rare opportunity to rub shoulders with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the ENMAX Conservatory at the Calgary Zoo.

Youth staff worker Brittney Brown, 16, said the experience was somewhat of a blur.

Brown remembers handing the duchess a bouquet of Alberta roses and wheat but not much more than that.

“I was extremely nervous,” said Brown. “Will shook our hands and said our names. Kate asked us about school and if we were going to the zoo.”

Brown said the couple was really kind and seemed to really listen to what they had to say. She said the meeting was a dream come true.

In lieu of a wedding gift to the royal newlyweds, the Alberta government made a $25,000 donation in the couple’s name to provincial youth groups of which the Red Deer group received $2,500.

The reception was organized so the royal couple could meet some of the youth that benefited from their nuptials.

The Red Deer youth group was one of about five different youth groups gathered at the reception. The three youth were selected by the centre’s volunteers because they were the most likely to appreciate the royal encounter.

Dawn Flanagan, program director at the Youth and Volunteer Centre, was blown away by the couple’s genuineness and sincerity.

She described the Duchess of Cambridge as beautiful and kind while the duke was a little more formal.

The Duke and Duchess spent about 10 minutes with each group. The group also met Alberta Lt. Gov. Donald S. Ethell who Flanagan said was thoughtful and easy going.

“Kate showed me the wedding ring that Princess Diana had,” gushed Flanagan. “It was beautiful.”

Both Flanagan and Brown said this was one experience they will never forget.

“There were no airs to them,” she said. “They were just really natural. Kate said she absolutely loved Canada. She loved the people. It was great.”

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com