POLITICS

No dragon boats or hockey, Charles and Camilla's royal visit sticks to tradition

05/18/2012 04:30 EDT | Updated 07/17/2012 05:12 EDT
Canada, refine your curtsy and practise your bow. Another royal visit is upon us.

But unlike Prince William and Kate's whirlwind, hands-on tour as newlyweds last year, there is no need to brush up on dragon boating or street hockey.

Royal watchers say the arrival Sunday of Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, in New Brunswick will mark the start of a decidedly more subdued and traditional itinerary to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

"The youth of William and Kate and the novelty of this newly married couple and all the excitement that went along with the wedding is a very different thing," Barry MacKenzie, a spokesman for the Monarchist League of Canada, said in an interview.

"It's no less enthusiastic but perhaps more sedated, for lack of a better word."

Observers say there are several reasons why the four-day sojourn, which also includes stops in Toronto and Regina, features more of the traditional royal fare: walkabouts, fireworks displays, and meet-and-greets with military personnel.

For one, Charles, 63, is no longer a young man in his 30s. It will also be his 16th visit to Canada and his second since 2009 with the Duchess of Cornwall.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's visit to North America last summer came on the heels of their lavish, fairy-tale wedding and at the height of their star power. Whether it was in Charlottetown or Los Angeles, the couple was greeted by the kind of fanfare and commotion typically reserved for Hollywood A-listers.

Girls swooned at the sight of a real prince and women gushed over Kate's fashion sense while some 1,400 international journalists documented their every move.

Headlines remarked on the couple's informal attitude, their outward affection for each other, their willingness to mingle freely with crowds, and their desire to participate in non-traditional events, including facing off in a dragon boat race and playing street hockey.

As newlyweds, their visit was a coming out of sorts before the entire world. Charles and Camilla's tour, however, is meant to focus on the Queen's service to the Commonwealth over six decades, said Rafal Heydel-Mankoo, a royal commentator based in the U.K.

"This tour in Canada is not going to be the celebrity glam tour that we saw with Prince William and Catherine," he said from London.

"Instead, we're going to see a focusing on all those initiatives and projects which aren't fashionable but which the monarchy supports."

Heydel-Mankoo said the decision to send the future king to Canada as part of the Diamond Jubilee festivities speaks volumes of the Royal Family's affection for the country.

"Canada has a very, very strong connection with the Royal Family," he said. "They would never say so in public, but I think secretly it's their favourite realm after the U.K."

Charles and Camilla are set to arrive in New Brunswick on Sunday evening. Their official welcome, replete with a 21-gun salute, is scheduled for the following morning at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown.

The royal couple will meet with members of the military and attend a reception with Gov. Gen. David Johnston before heading to Saint John for a walking tour. They will also take in a citizenship ceremony and Victoria Day celebrations before departing New Brunswick for Toronto on Monday evening.

On Tuesday, Charles will meet with students at Ryerson University before he and Camillia attend a Diamond Jubilee celebration hosted by Premier Dalton McGuinty. Charles will also meet with leaders of the Assembly of First Nations.

The couple's final day in Regina will include a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Heydel-Mankoo said he expects Charles will make many more trips to Canada in the future to give newer generations a chance to know him better.

The prince is already highly regarded in the U.K., he said.

He said Charles successfully emerged from bad press in the 1980s and 1990s and the collapse of his marriage to Diana, Princess of Wales, to become "a renaissance man." Deeply spiritual and reflective, Charles is dedicated to issues of sustainable living, education and helping disadvantaged youths, he said.

As for his relationship with Camilla, royal historian Carolyn Harris said it is one of mutual respect.

Camilla was once vilified as an old flame who poisoned Charles's first marriage to Diana, but the 64-year-old duchess is now considered an integral member of the Royal Family.

Harris said observers will note the public relationship between Charles and Camilla shares similarities with that of William and Kate.

"Diana attracted an enormous amount of attention and, to a certain degree at the time, she upstaged her husband and that created tensions within their marriage," Harris said from Toronto.

"Whereas we see with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall the degree to which they compliment each other as a couple."

Heydel-Mankoo agrees.

"They have a wonderful working relationship. He's very much the ying to her yang," he said.

"There's just a nice, warm happy glow when they're together."

If William and Kate were responsible for reigniting Canada's interest in the monarchy, MacKenzie said Charles and Camilla — and the pomp and ceremony people have come to expect from royal visits —will keep that flame alight.

"There's a little something for everyone of all ages and persuasions in monarchy," he said. "That's what makes it so continually appealing."