Prince Charles promises to listen to Canadians coming to terms with 'darker aspects of past' on royal tour

The Prince of Wales has promised to listen to Canadians coming “to terms with the darker and more difficult aspects of the past”

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Charles and Camilla were greeted by officials, including Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, when they landed in Newfoundland ahead of their three-day royal tour.

Their trip has a big focus on indigenous communities and Charles suggested he is willing to listen to their concerns.

Last summer, protesters toppled statues of Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Victoria over the discovery of mass graves of indigenous children who were sent to residential schools in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Earl and Countess of Wessex faced protests on royal tours to the Caribbean earlier this year over the British monarchy’s historical links to the slave trade.

This week’s trip could help to reconcile the relationship between the different communities living in Canada.

Prince Charles and Camilla in Canada
Prince Charles and Camilla in Canada
Charles addressing servicemen in Canada
Charles addressing servicemen in Canada

On Tuesday, Charles and Camilla took part in a solemn ceremony in the Heart Garden, which was unveiled in 2019 in memory of children who died while trapped in the residential school system.

The Heart Garden is also a place which honours survivors and victims’ families.

A moment of silence was observed, before local schoolchildren planted paper hearts in the garden with special messages written on them.

The Prince of Wales said: “We must find new ways to come to terms with the darker and more difficult past: acknowledging, reconciling and striving to do better. It is a process that starts with listening”.

The tour comes to celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, as Her Majesty is the first British and Canadian monarch to mark 70 years of service.

The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall attended an Official Welcome Ceremony in Newfoundland where the royal couple were entertained by lively performances featuring traditional songs and stories.

Charles stuck to tradition, inspected a guard of honour, and took part in a royal salute.

Back in Government House, Charles showed his support for Canada’s wool industry after he helped launch ‘Campaign for Wool Canada’ during his visit to the country in 2014.

The Campaign aims to raise awareness of the “unique, natural, and sustainable benefits of wool”.

The Prince of Wales met with a knitting circle of NONIA knitters, a century-old non-profit organisation which, in 1948, gifted the then Princess Elizabeth a baby cardigan for her son.

The Prince of Wales was shown a replica of his former garment, as well as needle-felted Canadian wool sculptures of himself and the Queen.

The sculpture was created especially for her Platinum Jubilee.

Charles and Camilla unveiled a bronze marker at the Commonwealth Walkway, where trees have been planted for the Queen’s Green Canopy – an initiative that encourages people across the world to “plant a tree for the Jubilee”.

They then visited a small fishing village located on the east end of St John’s, Quidi Vidi Village, where they spoke to residents and stopped to chat with local fishermen and vendors along the village’s boardwalk.

The Mayor of St John’s, Mayor Danny Breen, suggested a royal visit helps to boost businesses and the public profile of a community off the beaten track.

Charles and Camilla on tour in North America
Charles and Camilla on tour in North America
Charles making a speech
Charles making a speech

He told GB News: “A visit of this type shines the international spotlight on us and we get the opportunity to show people what they can find here and hopefully they’ll visit us and [for] most people that visit us it is a trip of a lifetime."

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall visited the Quidi Vidi Village Artisan Studios which helps emerging artists and craftspeople to turn “their handmade products into sustainable businesses”.

The organisation, built on the site of a former fishing plantation, also aims to advance the region’s tourism industry.

The coronavirus pandemic was a big blow for tourism in the area, but locals hope the royal tour will bring people back.

Melissa Tarrant, Business Mentor and Programme Manager for the Quidi Vidi Village Artisan Studios who met Charles and Camilla, told GB News the royal visit is “great timing” and hopes the attention they received will help increase visitor numbers.

The royal couple got the chance to sample an Iceberg beer from a local brewery, made from 20,000-year-old water harvested from icebergs which migrate seasonally to Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will visit Ottawa, Canada’s Capital Region, on Wednesday.