Huge crowds welcome William and Kate in Whitehorse

Grey skies and a horde of excited Yukoners welcomed the royal couple to Whitehorse Tuesday evening.

Grey skies and a horde of excited Yukoners welcomed the royal couple to Whitehorse Tuesday evening.

William, Duke of Cambridge, and Kate, the duchess, stepped off the plane around 6:30 p.m. at Whitehorse’s Erik Nielsen International Airport.

They were greeted by Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski, Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis, and Governor General David Johnston.

“This is a vast and important part of Canada that is home to a truly wonderful people,” Johnston said. “Something about this part of the country humbles and inspires us and forces us to discover new things.”

The British press was quick to notice Kate’s choice of clothing for the day: a Hobbs coat with a maple leaf tartan scarf.

Macey Hangartner presented the duchess with flowers on behalf of Special Olympics Yukon, while Reem Aarafat presented the Governor General’s wife with a bouquet.

Aarafat is a member of the Syrian family who arrived earlier this year as refugees.

William went on to inspect Canadian Rangers who had been waiting on the tarmac. Junior Rangers were also present.

The duke took some time to chat with members of both groups.

As William and Kate climbed in their ride — a GMC Yukon — the crowd parked a couple of hundred metres away from the tarmac started cheering.

There were British flags on display and at least 100 people who waited in the cold for an hour to greet the royal couple.

They then travelled to the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre for a packed show: seven bands performed in under 45 minutes.

The couple watched the show alongside a slew of dignitaries, from Yukon Commissioner Doug Phillips to Kwanlin Dun First Nation Chief Doris Bill and Ta’an Kwach’an Council Chief Kristina Kane.

The show featured local bands with Yukon fixtures like Ryan McNally, Old Cabin and Sarah MacDougall and newcomers like Anger Management, which made its debut this summer.

“The prince said it was the best show he’s ever seen,” said Scott Maynard, Anger Management’s drummer.

The couple was surprised by the talents showcased, keyboardist Cecile Legare said.

After the show the royals went to chat with some of the artists behind the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre where a bonfire had been lit.

The duke and duchess were clearly at ease exchanging jokes and taking interest in the people they had just seen perform.

At one point Kate asked Legare how long she had played the keyboard.

As it turns out, Legare actually plays the trombone but tries her hand occasionally at the keyboard.

“At the end she said ‘Yeah! Keep on doing it. Keep on going. It’s going to be OK.’” Legare said.

Maynard described the royal couple as “charming.”

“They had taken notice of what everybody had done and asked specific questions to the people they were meeting,” he said. “They seem really genuine.”

For McNally, who played alongside a six-piece band, it was an honour.

“They seem sincere and nice,” he said. “It’s obviously kind of crazy the celebritism that’s going on right now.”

As the couple left the KDCC, hundreds of fans gathered at the corner of the building cheered as they caught a glimpse of William and Kate.

Today the royals visited the MacBride Museum and met with children taking part in an Indigenous languages program.

They then moved to the Healing Totem before walking down Main Street. The totem is dedicated to the healing of residential school survivors.

Fay Jensen, owner of Whitehorse Flowers, who composed bouquets for the duchess and the Governor General’s wife, was also in attendance on Main Street waiting for the royals.

“They told me (Kate) loved the bouquet so much she is taking it home,” Jensen said, visibly excited.

When she submitted photos of her bouquet ahead of the royals’ visit, she said officials were blown away.

“It’s quite an honour,” she said. “It’s every florist’s dream to say they’ve done a bouquet for the royals.”

A few metres away, Celeste Bendall decided to take the day off work to see the royals.

“The most precious thing in life is time,” Bendall said. “They’re giving us time, I want to honour them.”

Eleven-year-old Daniel Clyde had seen the royals in magazines and was excited to see them in person.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance,” he said.

The couple was scheduled to travel to Carcross Wednesday afternoon where they will meet members of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation and youth involved in the Singletrack to Success program, which teaches local youngsters how to build mountain biking trails.

The tour was to wrap up Wednesday afternoon.

More photos and videos of the royal tour are available on our website: yukon-news.com.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

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