OTTAWA, Ontario – Prince William and Kate tried out their French in public and put on their best British charm for screaming Canadians as the royal newlyweds began their first official overseas trip Thursday.
Poised and confident, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as they are formally known, thrilled the crowds with warm, unscripted gestures, wading into throngs of well-wishers to shake hands and accept flowers and other gifts.
To cheers of delight, William addressed his hosts in both English and French, then cracked a joke about his language skills. “It will improve as we go on,” the prince quipped, then noted how much he and Kate were “truly looking forward to this adventure.”
“They are beautiful together, like a fairy tale,” gushed 15-year-old Daphnee Dubouchet-Olshesh, who was in the crowd with her mother. “He just sounded so cute and adorable with his English accent. He did pretty good with his French.”
Kate’s French also got a thumbs-up. Mayor Marc Bureau of Gatineau, Quebec, said he greeted the couple in French and Kate replied in French that it was a pleasure.
“I think French classes have served her well,” he said.
Arriving aboard a Canadian military plane, the couple were greeted by bright sunshine and stiff breezes along with dignitaries and cheering crowds of thousands.
The royal pair then headed straight to the National War Memorial, where they were met by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife, Laureen. Each laid a wreath before stepping into the crowd to speak individually with veterans.
The couple will stay in Canada for nine days, taking part in Canada Day celebrations today and opening the world-renowned Calgary Stampede, as well as handing out flags to newly minted Canadians at a citizenship ceremony.
During the visit, William will show his skills as a helicopter rescue pilot by taking part in a water landing demonstration, and the couple is scheduled to put on aprons and take part in a cooking workshop in Quebec City.
The prince and his wife have star power to burn, and Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore predicted this will be the most-watched royal tour in Canada’s history.
The prince and Kate jet to Los Angeles on July 8 and will host a gala dinner there the next night to introduce up-and-coming British film talent to Hollywood executives.