BUSINESS

A royal Canadian sweep

They brought warmth to a land facing a winter of discontent

D’ARCY JENISH November 11 1991
BUSINESS

A royal Canadian sweep

They brought warmth to a land facing a winter of discontent

D’ARCY JENISH November 11 1991

A royal Canadian sweep

A SPECIAL TOUR ALBUM

They brought warmth to a land facing a winter of discontent

A brisk wind was blowing, the temperature stood at 6° C and 200 shivering well-wishers stood outside the

passenger terminal at Ottawa’s Uplands airbase. At 11 p.m., half an hour behind schedule,

Prince Charles and his wife,

Diana, Princess of Wales, arrived in a motorcade of about a dozen cars. Onlookers said that they expected the royal couple to walk straight to the brightly lit Canadian Forces Boeing 707 jetliner that was waiting to fly them back to London last week following their seven-day visit to Canada. But Diana clearly had other ideas. With her seemingly reluctant husband in tow, the tall, blond princess approached the crowd on the tarmac for a final, unscheduled session of royal handshaking on Canadian soil. When she and Charles finally turned to the group of dignitaries, including Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, who were waiting to bid the royal couple farewell, Diana stopped again—this time

to embrace Norma Passaretti, a federal official who co-ordinated the tour and who was frequently at the princess’s side during the previous week. Only then did the royal couple climb the steps to the aircraft, turn and wave goodbye.

As one of the world’s most closely watched couples, Charles and Diana had been under the spotlight throughout their Oct. 23-to-29 Ontario tour, which included stops in Toronto, Sudbury, Kingston and Ottawa. For dedicated Canadian monarchists, the tour provided an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the heir to the British throne and his vivacious wife. And for royal-watchers, there were bonuses in the form of William, 9, and Harry, 7, the two princes who accompanied their parents and participated for the first time in an official royal tour. For thousands of other Canadians, the tour was a chance to see a pair of celebrities and gaze for a few seconds at royal wealth, glamor and beauty.

But even though they stayed for a week, made dozens of appearances and shook hands with countless Canadians, Charles and Diana revealed little about themselves as husband and wife. They did nothing to inflame or dampen the speculation about the state of their marriage, which some British experts say has become nothing more than a legal arrangement,

with Charles and Diana spending most of their lives apart. During their Canadian visit, the two frequently attended separate functions. When they were together in public, they rarely exchanged a word or a smile.

Charles and Diana at times clearly showed aspects of thenseparate personalities. Many of those who saw Charles up close and heard him speak said that they were impressed by his sense of humor and his commitment to his chosen causes, which include education, architecture and the environment. According to many British royal-watchers, the 43-year-old prince is determined to create a useful public role for himself largely because, at 65, his mother, Queen Elizabeth n, shows no sign of giving up the throne. In a convocation address at Queen’s University in Kingston, the prince ventured cautiously into Canada’s constitutional debate. “I cannot help believing,” he told an audience of 850 academics, students and invited guests, “that the best interests of 26 million Canadi-

ans lie in finding a satisfactory and mutually acceptable way forward as members of a federation which remains the envy of much of the world.” Diana’s greatest strengths are her beauty and her charm. Almost invariably, Diana approached the outstretched hands ahead of her husband, shook more of them—and stayed longer. Almost everywhere, the response was the same. Said Marion Fray, 78, a housewife who saw the princess in Kingston: “She sits down and talks to people. I love that about her.”

The princess also handled unexpected situations with humor and grace. At a senior citizens home in Kingston, a 102-year-old woman in a wheelchair had been chosen to present a bouquet before a crowd of about 200 fellow residents and guests. The woman handed the flowers to Diana, then said loudly: “I forgot what they told me to say.” The princess immediately replied: “That’s OK. I got the message.” It was a small incident in a busy seven-day tour, but it revealed that behind the glamor and beauty, there lies a princess who is both kindly and quick-thinking— valuable commodities in the woman who could be Queen.

D’ARCY JENISH

THE ROYAL TOUR 1991

A rare opportunity to observe the heir to the British th¡

and his vivacious wife

■ THE ROYAL TOUR 1991

Charles advanced his selected causes: education, architecture and the environment

THE ROYAL TOUR 1991

Unity is in ‘the best interests of Canadians'

THE ROYAL TOUR 1991

Diana reached the outstretched hands ahead of her husband