Britain’s photogenic royals have Canada in a tizzy, but not all Quebecois bid them a hearty bienvenue.
Prince William and his wife Catherine were welcomed to French-speaking territory by the mayor of Quebec City, bearskin helmeted troops of the 22nd regiment, and even a doleful glance from the regimental goat, Baptiste.
Just down the road, however, some 300 antimonarchists communicated their displeasure via ever-provocative saucepan lids, vuvuzelas and bagpipes. The young band of separatists trotted out their best English for signs that read, “Royal parasites! Go home!” “Pay for your trip” and “Kate go UK yourself.” Fearful of clouding their cause, some handed out leaflets entreating fellow protesters to “gardez votre calme.” “We have no bad feelings about the British empire,” explained Julien Gaudreau, 23-year-old member of the Quebec Resistance Movement. “We want to change the constitution here, not because of what happened in the past, but what will happen in the future.”
There was little chance that their cries for freedom would reach Prince William as he spoke in halting French outside city hall. “C’est un honneur pour nous d’être parmi vous … merci votre patience avec mon accent,” he said as the crowd cheered.
Instead of making imperious faux pas like their predecessors (Prince Phillip asked a Cayman Islander in 1994, “Aren’t most of you descended from pirates?”), the young royals adopted an air of regal detachment. “The couple are taking it in their stride,” the prince’s spokesman said of the protests. “They are getting a very warm welcome. They consider [the demonstrations] as all part of the rich fabric of Canada.” Ah protests, just part of the local color. Allez-y old chaps!