Canada, here she comes…

I wonder if Kate, sorry Catherine, Middleton has the faintest idea how tough her first royal tour will be.

When newlywed William and his wife fly off to Canada at the end of June, the new Princess will have experienced only a handful of official royal engagements here at home. To date she has done one evening job in Norfolk just before Christmas and has two more lined up this week in remote Anglesey and St.Andrews.

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So she has yet to find out what its like to have a wildly enthusiastic reception in a big city like London or Birmingham.

But within a few weeks of her wedding she will be traipsing across a vast country, hopping across time zones, wide open plains and mountain ranges. Her ten day trip will take her from the smallest province, postcard-pretty Prince Edward Island to the vast Northwest Territories, the cowboy country of Alberta and sophisticated cities like Quebec and the capital Ottawa.

It’s a daunting schedule for a novice royal, although no doubt William has given her lots of advice, perhaps telling her all about the screaming hordes who greeted him in Auckland and Sydney a year ago.

I well remember feeling sorry for Will in the sticky summer heat as I watched hundreds of girls almost wrench his arms off, so keen were they to shake hands with their future king as he went on walkabouts. Not to mention the over-exhuberant ones who planted endless smackers on his red face.

Last July I followed the Queen across Canada as she arrived on the Atlantic coast at Halifax, which was hit by Monsoon-like rain and freezing temperatures. We then moved on to Ottawa, Winnipeg and Toronto, where enormous crowds turned out everywhere she and Prince Philip appeared.

By the end of the trip the early cool, wet weather had changed to sweltering heat but, after 60 years touring the world, our Queen took it in her stride. I hope Kate can do the same despite her lack of experience meeting crowds of excited people.

Sometimes the best-laid plans of palace aides and government tour officials go awry.

In Toronto the royal couple stayed in the grand Royal York hotel, which shortly before a big banquet, was hit by a power cut which left us all in the dark.

A similar power cut once hit Prince Andrew and his wife Sarah while they were in the shower preparing for a big dinner in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. The Prince later made a speech with a lot of jokes about what went on when the electricity went off in the bathroom.

On Princess Diana’s first tour of Australia in 1983 record crowds thronged the streets of Brisbane, pressing so close to the royal visitors, that the new Princess was completely overwhelmed. She had to be whisked away to a quiet room in the town hall where she could rest and be revived with a drink of water.

My advice to Catherine as she plans her first overseas tour is to read the Duchess of York’s autobiography ‘My Story’. She called her first tour of Canada ‘ten gruelling days… my dress requirements alone would have sent a saner woman screaming for the nearest exit’.

She describes the lack of time to dress for evening dinners, explaining Andrew got ready in half an hour so had time to rest, while she and her hairdresser wrestled for ninety minutes trying to stop a heavy tiara falling over her nose. In any spare time she was running through her next speech, ‘working all the time, not a moment to rest.’

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By the end she wanted nothing more than to collapse on a beach but Andrew took her on a camping trip through the mosquito-and-bug-ridden Northwest Territories which no-softie Sarah called ‘the greatest endurance test of my life.’ She kept a diary which Princess Margaret once dipped into then quickly shut saying, “I don’t want to read more. It’s too gruesome.’

Well, Good Luck on your first tour abroad, Catherine. I suspect you’ll need it.

13 comments

  1. one huge difference to Diana: Kate will have a loving supporting husband on her side.
    one big difference to Fergie: she is a level headed person that will take things in her stride without emoptional outbreaks.

  2. It is almost as if Judy wants Kate, sorry Catherine, to fail.

  3. Everyone has to learn at some point, no? Besides, Catherine will have a very supportive husband at her side, unlike Diana. And Sarah’s experience, well, I’d take that with a grain or two of salt.

  4. Two huge differences to Diana – Kate is intelligent and not out to steal the limelight.
    One difference to Sarah – Kate has dignity.

  5. Kate Middleton is an individual. Why compare her to anyone else?
    PS Prince Charles has probably [quietly] done more good for this planet via his causes than Diana ever did.

  6. Fergie had a loving husband and it got her nowhere.
    Kate has never worked in her life.
    She is going to die doing this.
    And William will be driven mad with her around all the time. He really hasn’t thought through how much time they will spend together

  7. @ Amy how ccan you be so sure of that? Do you personally know Kate?

  8. To add to what I said earlier, I don’t know Kate personally but from what I read she seems to be a well-adjusted, grounded and nice person who will soon have a lot of responsibilities on her shoulders. Let’s not make assumptions (either good or bad) about her until we see how she does with her first official trip…..

  9. hoi LA,
    so you have the right to express opinions based on what you read and I don’t?
    Even if we totally agree in our assumptions?
    confused much?

  10. Sarah and Andrew spent about 2 weeks together not including tours during their marriage…I don’t see him as a supporting husband. Diana was young Kate is abougt 10 years her senior as she starts out, and she has William. Charles was still having an affair with Cam and Diana knew it. He was not a supporting hubby by any stretch. And Wills and Kate have been together for 8 years already. Diana had an arranged marriage, only one that did not know it was her! She was just coming into her own when she died. So sad!I think she is going to do it all splendidly!

  11. Ms. Wade,
    I have almost always enjoyed your commentary but I have to take issue with your advice for Kate Middleton: anyone that thinks taking any kind of advice other than how NOT to behave from the Duchess of York cannot possibly have her best interest at heart.
    If that is the case, shame on you. If that is not the case, my sincere apologies.

  12. I’m sure Kate will do a wonderful job. She seems like a level-headed, intelligent young woman.

  13. Henry also had another wife called Catherine Howard, so there were 3 wives of his called Catherine, not only the two that are mentioned above. Just saying.

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