HALIFAX - Prince Charles will embark on his 17th visit to Canada today when he and his wife, Camilla, arrive in Halifax for the first leg of their four-day tour.
The whirlwind visit, which is the couple's third Canadian tour since 2009, will also include stops in Pictou, N.S., the P.E.I. communities of Charlottetown, Bonshaw and Cornwall, as well as Winnipeg.
Though the nation that has welcomed four official visits by the Royal Family in four years — Queen Elizabeth II in 2010, then-newlyweds Prince William and Kate in 2011, and Charles and Camilla in 2012 — the Canadian secretary to the Queen says there's a fascination with the royals that can't be satiated.
"There's a great deal of excitement and expectation about this royal tour," says Kevin MacLeod, who's worked on about 20 royal tours since 1987.
Charles and Camilla will be met by dignitaries when they touch down at Halifax Stanfield International Airport at around 6:30 p.m. It will be the heir to the throne's first visit to the province since 1983 and the first for the Duchess of Cornwall.
They will then retire to Government House in downtown Halifax where they will meet with Lt.-Gov. J.J. Grant and attend a reception with local, national and international journalists who are expected to shadow the couple's every move until their departure Wednesday from Canada.
Their official welcome to Canada, where Charles will make his first of four planned speeches, will take place Monday morning near the cenotaph outside Halifax City Hall. Later at the city's Public Gardens, Charles will plant an English oak tree — a tradition started 75 years ago by his grandfather, King George VI.
At historic Pier 21 and the Canadian Museum of Immigration, the couple will meet with war brides and veterans of the Second World War. They will also travel to the community of Pictou where they will learn about the province's Celtic roots.
The activities chosen for the visit reflect the couple's interests, including literacy, education, sustainability and the arts, while also adhering to the tour's theme of commemorating Canada's past and looking ahead to the future.
Robert Finch, chairman of the Monarchist League of Canada, says Charles's interests speak to Canadians both young and old.
"Things like the environment, bridging the gap between different religions, these are things that Canadians — even young Canadians — really gravitate toward," he says.
The remainder of the tour will include speeches, 21-gun salutes, walkabouts, and meetings with various community groups and organizations.
The Nova Scotia leg of the tour will end Monday evening, when Charles and Camilla board an aircraft bound for Charlottetown. The P.E.I. capital is marking the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference, which eventually led to Confederation.
While in the city Tuesday, the couple will visit the legislature and attend a youth parliament debate. The Prince of Wales will also be honoured with a medal recognizing his contributions to Canada and deliver his second speech of the tour.
Charles and Camilla will tour the city's arts centre guided by an actress playing Anne of Green Gables before flying to Winnipeg, where they will meet with children and learn about another famous cultural export: Winnie the Pooh. Charles will also have the opportunity to feed a polar bear at a conservation facility in the Manitoba city — the last stop of their visit.
Charles will deliver two more speeches in Winnipeg before he and Camilla put another royal tour into Canada's history books.