Sign up to our newsletter

Get the latest updates about Their Royal Highnesses including news, events and photos straight to your inbox

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess
of Cornwall

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Prince Harry


News and Diary

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall

Advanced Search

Show news and diary for:

Canada Day Two: TRH visit Canadian Forces Base Gagetown

21st May 2012

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall visit Gagetown

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall visit Gagetown

The Prince of Wales reminisced about his days as a young naval pilot on exercises in Canada today as he was officially welcomed to the country for his Diamond Jubilee tour.

The Prince, then a 26-year-old lieutenant, spent five weeks living in a tent at the military base he returned to today with The Duchess of Cornwall for a ceremony full of pageantry.

Newspaper reports printed 37 years to the day - May 21 1975 - show The Prince in training when the press were allowed onto the Canadian Forces Base, Gagetown.

The Prince flew sorties and transported troops and equipment as part of the major British military exercise codenamed Grey Goose.

A few days later he was photographed with performer Johnny Cash at a concert the country singer played near the base.

Today with a head of grey hair but still with a trim waistline and sporting a chest full of medals on his suit jacket, The Prince described his joy at travelling back to Canada to celebrate The Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

Speaking to an invited audience of Forces families, Second World War veterans and dignitaries who included Canada's Governor General David Johnston, the prince got a round of applause when he said: "I am delighted that my wife and I are beginning this, my 16th, visit over the past 40 years to Canada here in Gagetown where I have fond memories of my own military service - as a young naval helicopter pilot - in the 1970s at an exercise area in the middle of nowhere, which somewhat inaptly took its name from the local town of Blissville.

"As the father of two serving sons in the armed forces, who seem to have become hereditary helicopter pilots, I am greatly looking forward to talking to members and veterans of Her Majesty's Canadian armed forces in a few moments and to recognise their particular form of service to the nation.

"I shall also be delighted to see, over the next few days, the results of some of the projects coordinated by my Prince's Charities Canada Foundation.

"I hope these projects may, in a small way, help to promote Canadian values and the way of life through assisting our military with the transition to civilian life by providing private sector training and skills; by bringing business-based solutions to communities who need a bit of a helping hand; and by using the arts as a vehicle for wider learning."

During his speech The Prince honoured Marshall Howard, aged 13, who has been campaigning and fundraising in support of Canada's armed forces. Before presenting the teenager with a Diamond Jubilee medal, which commemorates those who have performed service, The Prince said: "Despite being only 13, he has given his own time and energy to raise money for a scholarship in memory of Private David Greenslade, a soldier from Saint John who lost his life in Afghanistan.

"This remarkable example of service to the wider community is something of which Marshall's family and indeed all Canadians can rightly be immensely proud."

The 13-year-old is planning to run 26 miles (42 kilometres) over two weeks next month to raise almost £7,000 for a bursary set up in memory of Pte Greenslade and other causes.

His mother Dorothy Howard, a 36-year-old hotel receptionist said: "I'm extremely proud of him. I've never seen a young person with so much direction and passion.

"We got the medal through the mail but I thought he would not get the full meaning of it if we handed it to him, so I contacted the base and they came up with the idea of The Prince doing the presentation.

"I've kept this quiet for the past month, which was really difficult." Marshall said: "This was a surprise I didn't know about this till this morning, the prince just said it was a great honour I was receiving this."

During the welcoming ceremony The Prince inspected a guard of honour, 100 soldiers, men and women of all ranks from the base formed into two guards.

In front of him were service personnel from the Royal Canadian Dragoon Regiment, of which The Prince is the Colonel-in-Chief.

The second was formed of soldiers from all trades and environments of 3 Area Support Group.

After walking between the lines, stopping occasionally to speak to a serviceman or woman, the royal couple attended a reception for the guests.

The royal couple received a rapturous welcome when they arrived at Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada's first city, and walked down the aptly-named Prince William Street greeting thousands of well-wishers.

Victoria Day - The Queen's official birthday - was being celebrated today and the wide historic boulevard lined with imposing Victorian buildings had a party atmosphere as the royal couple shook hands, chatted and joked with well-wishers.

Later a toddler having a typical tantrum upstaged a citizenship ceremony attended by The Prince and Duchess, who were invited to present certificates to 13 of Canada's newest citizens.

The royal couple were left smiling in sympathy when little Jumana Alqdah began screaming but after she was comforted by her mother, she erupted again with a howl and had to be carried out by a member of staff.

The 14-month-old toddler, whose parents Maen and Rania Alqdah emigrated from Jordan five years ago, could be heard screaming from another room.

Jason Kennedy, Canada's citizenship minister, joked "Don't worry, the little one is already a Canadian citizen, she beat her family to it", before leading the group through their oath of allegiance to The Queen.

The royal couple showed their musical side when they celebrated New Brunswick's cultural heritage in Saint John's dockside district.

When The Duchess came across an Arcadian music group, she tried her hand at playing wooden spoons while The Prince played the drums with some indigenous Indian musicians. The royal couple's final event in the province took them to Hazen White-St Francis School, saved from closure by dedicated staff and the community surrounding it.

The Prince and Duchess toured the school, joining reading classes and listening to the youngsters read aloud. They joined a cookery class where The Prince tasted some grilled salmon before he shared a slice of cake with his wife.

In the grounds, The Prince joined a game of street hockey, a sport played in every neighbourhood across Canada. The Prince, armed with a stick, took a long-range speculative shot which found the back of the net.