Quebec activists promise hostile royal reception
It's a good job the Duchess of Cambridge has been brushing up on her French. William and Catherine have been told to expect vocal protests from republicans and French-speaking separatists when their first overseas royal tour reaches Quebec this weekend.
The couple touch down in Ottawa today for a 10-day tour of Canada which is keenly anticipated by monarchists. They will join an expected 500,000-strong crowd in the capital for the Canada Day celebrations tomorrow.
But the welcome is expected to be less friendly when the royal party travels through Montreal and arrives in Quebec City on Sunday.
Quebec is a hotbed of pro-independence and republican views and where opposition to the Queen's role as Canada's head of state first prompted protests during her 1964 visit.
A fringe separatist group, Réseau de Résistance du Québécois (RRQ), has promised to disrupt the Duke and Duchess's city hall appearance. The group's website, has posted the slogan "William go away!" above a statement: "Rest assured we will do everything in our power to make his stay with us as disagreeable as possible."
The Resistance group, which expects to bring 300 members to the protest, has already proved that it can make life difficult for visiting royalty.
It staged a rowdy protest during a visit to Montreal by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2009, forcing security to hustle the heir to the throne into an armoury through the back door. The RRQ statement said: "A majority of Quebecers reject the British monarchy, an outdated and undemocratic institution that costs Quebec taxpayers a fortune and represents the exploitation of so many peoples throughout the history of the British Empire."
The RRQ fuelled concerns that it is expecting violent clashes by announcing that it has handpicked a dozen burly security guards to "police" its own protest.
Patrick Bourgeois, head of the RRQ, told The Canadian Press: "We chose them based on build. Even myself, if they tell me what to do – they're so big that I'm going to listen to them." The protest will involve civil disobedience but will not be violent, he said.
Amir Khadir, leader of an anti–monarchy fringe party Quebec Solidaire, also called the trip "a waste of public funds," adding: "All this to welcome these parasites."
However republicans face equally voluble opposition from the Monarchist League of Canada, which has 500 members in Quebec and sees the arrival of the young couple as a major opportunity to rebrand the image of the Royal Family to sceptics.
The Canadian government said it would provide "all the necessary security'' for the couple, who will be guarded by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police during their tour through Canada's four provinces and the Northwest Territories. The security challenge has been made more difficult by the couple's desire to get as close as possible to the crowds, expected to line the streets in huge numbers.
* A leading Canadian ski resort – Revelstoke in British Columbia – is named after Prince William's great-great-great-grandfather, Edward Baring, 1st Lord Revelstoke, who guaranteed the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway by buying the company's outstanding bonds in 1885 and saving it from bankruptcy.
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