Royal connections to Harry and Meghan’s new home Canada

By Laura Elston, PA Court Reporter

The British royals have a strong bond with Canada, where the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will live, in part, as they transition into their new lives.

The Queen is monarch of the Commonwealth realm and it has been her most frequent overseas destination.

She has visited more than 20 times, including a trip as a princess.

Her planned visit in 1951 was postponed when George VI underwent an operation but eventually Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh flew to Montreal in October the same year.

Covered with blankets during a snowstorm, Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh watch a stampede rodeo in Calgary, Alberta, in 1951 (PA)

By the time they returned nearly six weeks later, they had covered nearly 16,500 miles in Canada and the United States.

It was during this tour that they were photographed in check shirts taking part in a square dance at Government House in Ottawa.

Princess Elizabeth square dancing at the Governor General’s residence in Ottawa. Philip (right) is in a check shirt (PA)

The Queen, who uses her outfits as a diplomatic tool, channelled the red and white colours of the Canadian flag on her official tours.

She even picked jewellery to reflect her affection for the nation, wearing her maple leaf brooch many times.

The diamond piece set in platinum shaped as the national symbol of Canada has been worn by a succession of royal women, from the Queen Mother through to the Duchess of Cambridge.

The Queen in the colours of the Canadian flag speaking to the crowds on Canada Day in Ottawa in 2010 (John Stillwell/PA)

It was a gift from King George VI to his wife Queen Elizabeth, who later became known as the Queen Mother, to mark their visit to Canada in 1939 – the first tour of the country by a reigning monarch.

First worn during the royal couple’s Atlantic crossing in the liner Empress of Australia, it was featured by Queen Elizabeth throughout the trip.

Her daughter Princess Elizabeth was loaned the iconic piece for her first visit to Canada in 1951 and, after she inherited it, she lent the brooch to the Duchess of Cornwall for her inaugural trip to the Commonwealth country in 2009, and also to the Duchess of Cambridge.

Princess Elizabeth, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Cornwall wearing the maple leaf brooch (PA)

Canada has long been viewed as a welcoming destination for royal newbies.

Kate and the Duke of Cambridge went there for their first joint official overseas trip following their wedding in 2011.

More than 1,400 journalists and photographers from across the globe covered the trip, which saw the couple criss-cross the country as they travelled to seven cities over nine days.

Kate during her visit to the Canadian Museum of Civilisation in Gatineau, Quebec (Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA)

Kate followed the Queen’s lead by wearing the national colours in tribute on Canada Day, with maple leaf adornments on her hat.

Thousands of Canadians flocked to Ottawa for their arrival.

The future King and Queen of Canada also took part in a dragon boat race on Prince Edward Island and wore 10-gallon cowboy hats as they opened the Calgary Stampede rodeo.

William celebrates winning a dragon boat race across a lake in Dalvey by-the Sea, on Prince Edward Island in eastern Canada (John Stillwell/PA)

The Cambridges were back charming Canada again in 2016 when William and Kate brought along Prince George and Princess Charlotte for their first official tour as a family of four.

Highlights included a children’s tea party where one-year-old Charlotte was heard saying her first public words including “Pop” and “Dada”.

William said at the time: “We feel very lucky to have been able to introduce George and Charlotte to Canada.

“This country will play a big part in the lives of our children and we have created such happy memories for our family during this visit.”

Now with Harry and Meghan setting up home in Canada and the UK, it raises the prospect of whether royals on official tours to the country will also travel to see the Sussexes.

The Cambridges at a party for military families at Government House in Victoria in 2016 (Chris Jackson/PA)

Prince Andrew, now the Duke of York, studied at Gordonstoun in Scotland but also spent six months overseas at Lakefield College School in Ontario as part of an exchange scheme.

William and Harry visited Vancouver as teenagers in 1998 with their father the Prince of Wales.

The brothers also joined their parents in Canada in 1991, visiting among other places Niagara Falls with the Princess of Wales.

The Princess of Wales with William and Harry at Niagara Falls, Canada, in 1991 (Martin Keene/PA)

Philip was in Canada in 1969 when he delivered a classic gaffe, saying: “I declare this thing open, whatever it is.”

Charles, who will one day be King of Canada, has visited the country 18 times.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has his own links to the monarchy.

Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau has an audience with the Queen at Buckingham Palace (Yui Mok/PA)

As a young child in the 1970s, Mr Trudeau met the Queen several times through his father, Pierre Trudeau, who was one of Canada’s longest-serving prime ministers.

He revealed in an interview in 2013: “There were lunch hours where I wouldn’t eat at school because we had to rush home to have lunch with the Queen.”

Meghan lived in Toronto while filming US legal drama Suits and Harry and his future wife made their first official public appearance together in the city in September 2017 at the Invictus Games.