Britain's Prince William, wife Kate start Canadian tour in Ottawa

Britain's Prince William, wife Kate start Canadian tour in Ottawa

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were greeted with enormous warmth as the royal newlyweds began their first official overseas visit in Ottawa Thursday,Xinhua reported.

Prince William and his wife Kate, who arrived in Ottawa aboard a Canadian Air Force plane, have just started a tour deemed in part to improve bonds between the British monarchy and Canadians, whose head of state is Queen Elizabeth.

Speaking at Rideau Hall, official home of Canada's Governor General David Johnston, who is the queen's representative in Canada, William said he was happy to be in Canada.

"Catherine and I are so delighted to be here in Canada," he told a crowd of more than 4,000 who had gathered on the grounds of the palatial residence.

"We have been looking forward to this moment for a very long time. Quite separately, before we were married, we had both had a longing to come here, instilled in us by our parents and grandparents," William said.

At Rideau Hall, the couple were met by Johnston and his wife Sharon. The duke reviewed a guard of honor before joining his wife to take part in an open-air party for young Canadians who have made their mark on the country through community service. The party had to be moved indoors later because of rain.

As he toured the Rideau Hall grounds, William shook hands with many people, including one woman who grasped his hand and repeated "I love you."

He also stopped to accept flowers from a group of girls holding signs that said "Prince Charming." Earlier, a woman in downtown Ottawa had given William a hand-made crown for his wife.

Before the royal couple went to Rideau Hall, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen joined the royal couple at the National War Memorial, where both couples placed wreaths before stopping to chat and shake hands with veterans and some of the thousands of spectators who had come to see them in downtown Ottawa.

Crowds began gathering at the war memorial and at Rideau Hall hours before the couple arrived at 2 p.m. local time after a direct flight from London's Heathrow Airport.

Huge crowds are expected Friday when the royal couple will join in Canada Day festivities to celebrate the 144th anniversary of Canada's founding.

The couple will stay in Canada for nine days and are scheduled to tour seven cities in four provinces and one territory before heading to California on July 8.

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