Tumultuous Wellington welcome for Charles and Camilla
An enthusiastic crowd greeted Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, as they arrived at the Wellington farmers’ market on Friday afternoon. Many of those waiting had endured the on-and-off showers of the morning in order to secure a prime spot in the publicly accessible areas.
Dorothy Robertson arrived before 10 a.m. and set herself up directly across from the United Church, where she got married in 1960. Wearing a Canada flag fascinator and carrying two Union Jacks, she is an avid royal watcher and laughed off the rain: “A little bit of rain for Charles? I’m not sugar, I won’t melt.”
Before the Royal arrival, Mayor Robert Quaiff, Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mohawk Chief R. Donald Maracle addressed the gathered crowd.
All three extended congratulations on Canada’s 150th anniversary, but noted the often-difficult relationship with Canada’s Indigenous people.
“We’re celebrating our history, we’re celebrating 150 years of Canada,” said Wynne. “We’re also having a moment to reflect on all of the people who have walked this land long before the rest of us came here.”
Chief Maracle also brought greetings. “On behalf of the Mohawk Nation, we extend to all Canadians our congratulations as you mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Dominion of Canada,” he said. “It is a time to reflect on all that has been accomplished in the last 150 years and a time to remember our history together and to set new goals for the future.”
Then Wellington was given over to the Royal visit. Over 50 vendors and organizations filled the United Church parking lot, awaiting the Prince and Duchess. The hundreds of onlookers could barely contain their excitement as the time drew closer, applauding as the first escort vehicles drove through, then erupting with cheers when the Royal couple arrived. After leaving their limousine, the Prince and Duchess walked over to greet the waiting public. They shook hands, exchanged words and paused for photographs. Then they were formally greeted by Premier Wynne, Mayor Quaiff and market organizer Louise McFaul, before touring through the market. Prince Charles visited the vendors on one side of the market, while Duchess Camilla took the other side. Each of them stopped to talk with the market participants for a few minutes, asking questions, sampling the wares or engaging in discussion. Midway through the market tour, they paused for a brief strawberry tea social under some welcome afternoon sunshine.
After walking through the market, the Prince and Duchess once again went over to greet the public onlookers, who broke out into a spontaneous rendition of God Save the Queen. With a final wave, the Royal couple got into their limousine for the second part of their County visit, a stop at Norman Hardie Winery. At the end of the market visit, the mood among vendors was decidedly buoyant. Henry Willis, who with his wife operates Humble Bread, spoke to Prince Charles. “It was a little bit of small farmer talk, which was kind of neat,” said Willis. “We told him about our operation and our commitment to organic practice. I’m still a little awestruck. We were really, really honoured to have him come by.”
Duchess Camilla, too, seemed genuinely interested and knowledgeable. She stopped to speak with Bay Woodyard of Honey Pie Hives and Herbals. “She told me that they keep bees at Highgate, where they live,” said Woodyard. “She wanted to talk about the different types of honey that they get from different types of flowers.”
For market coordinator Louise McFaul, the Royal visit was a culmination of nearly two months of intense activity and preparation, dealing with three levels of government, plus the Royals’ security team. Her task on the day of the visit was to guide Prince Charles through the market, stopping at pre-determined vendors. However, the Prince had other ideas.
“He didn’t need me one little bit—he just went anywhere he wanted to,” said Louise. “He wasn’t concerned about timing, he wasn’t concerned about protocol. He really took the time to enjoy the moment. He was very engaging. It was wonderful just to stand within two feet of him and watch that magic. I was in this lucky limbo, watching the Prince meet people I care about, meet my friends. I got to see the awe on the faces of the vendors and their enthusiasm when they got to share the excitement and chatter near me. To get to witness that over and over again…watching this connection be made by someone we only hear about in the media, sharing in the love of land and agriculture and the local movement and embracing the concept that we all have an opportunity to benefit greatly when we support each other… that was profound.”