01/27/2015 05:17 EST | Updated 03/29/2015 05:59 EDT

PMO Kept Canadian Military In Dark On Royal Visit Plans: Report

PICTOU, NOVA SCOTIA - MAY 19:  Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visit Hector Quay on May 19, 2014 in Pictou, Canada.  (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
Mark Cuthbert via Getty Images
PICTOU, NOVA SCOTIA - MAY 19: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visit Hector Quay on May 19, 2014 in Pictou, Canada. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
OTTAWA - The Canadian military was not amused by the secrecy and confusion that surrounded a Toronto event it was asked to organize for Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2012, a series of internal documents reveal.

A post-event analysis written for Canadian Forces commanders paints a picture of befuddlement among those in uniform who were tasked with putting on some kind of military display at Fort York for the royal couple.

The Prime Minister's Office kept the location, timing and details of the event a closely guarded secret until almost the last minute, forcing soldiers to scramble to get troops on parade and into supporting positions.

"PMO delayed the release of the official announcement of the event location and timings for the Toronto military event, which hampered administration and co-ordinating arrangements for out of town (military) personnel attending or participating in the event," said the report, dated May 31, 2013, and released to The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

"Until that announcement, the Royal Tour documentation remained classified and could not be posted to the (Canadian Forces Tasking Plans and Orders), which is for unclassified data only."

Aside from the hand-wringing, the report said the stranglehold on information affected the bottom line.

"One of the issues regarding the Prime Minister's Office (PMO)-led event in Toronto was the substantial delays in getting the location, format and set up approved, which resulted in late definition of requirements, leading to higher contracting costs for external support due to rushed requests."

A spokesman for the Prime Minister's Office referred the matter to National Defence, which did not directly address the substance of the complaints in the report.

Spokesman Dan Le Bouthillier said after-action reports are intended to "investigate fully any potential areas for improvement" and the military is dedicated to fine-tuning all aspects of its operations and keeping open clear channels of communication with the rest of government and the public.

"We are proud of the work that was accomplished as part of this very successful tour," he said an email late Tuesday.

The 2012 tour took the royal couple to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan. During the same visit, the prince spoke to troops at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, N.B., but the report mentioned no significant problems there.

It did say key military commanders and their headquarters were either kept in the dark or cut out of the loop as organizers on the ground scrambled the Toronto event together.

A lack of detail about PMO expectations left soldiers wondering what kind of ceremony the government wanted — a critical issue given the Conservative government's focus on the monarchy and British military tradition.

"It was challenging for the (Canadian Armed Forces) to discern the nature and the type of performance desired by PMO for the Toronto military event," said the report.

"Very high-profile performances such as the Toronto military event require long lead time to create and co-ordinate."

The event was saved by the fact the military appointed its musical director and parade sergeant major early, the documents said. Part of the delay involved waiting weeks for Clarence House, the official residence of The Prince of Wales, to approve the plan.

The report also said the Prime Minister's Office insisted on reviewing and approving each person on the guest list at the inspection ceremony and military muster.

Problems cropped up almost from the minute defence officials were told they were putting on a show for Charles and Camilla and that other departments "significantly under-estimated" the cost of the event beforehand.

"It was quickly discovered that the (commander) Canada Command would have very little participation in the decision process for the selection of the venue and program, as the event was handled by (PMO)," said the report.

"This made it difficult for the (Canadian Forces) to define the effect sought by the PMO and translate it into military showmanship."