Preparations in full swing for royal visit to Quebec
Published Thursday, June 30, 2011 1:33PM EDT
The royal couple will be in Quebec this weekend and preparations are in full swing, both in Montreal and in Quebec City.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton, will stop in Montreal for a whirlwind visit before heading to the provincial capital on Sunday.
While in Montreal, aside from looking out for protesters, William and Kate will be visiting Ste-Justine Hospital before taking in a pastry workshop at the Quebec government's Hotel and Tourism Institute.
It is, to say the least, a tall order for Master Chef Yves Petit and his team of apprentice chefs, some of whom are recent graduates of the institute but most are current students.
"To do this, it's to give us experience," said pastry student Gabriel Bernier. "But because it's for royalty, we have to be perfect."
The chefs are not spilling the beans on the dessert they will be preparing for the royal couple aside from the two main ingredients – strawberries and maple syrup.
But the sugar sculpture décor is on full display already, including an edible replica of Kate's now famous crown.
"It's very precise, it's really small to work," said Constance Tasse-Gagnon. "So I had to make 50 of these to use, like, 12… (it took) maybe 100 tries."
Once they're done nibbling on desserts, William and Kate will be whisked downriver on the HMCS Montreal for an overnight frigate ride to Quebec City.
There will be a non-denominational service given Sunday onboard the frigate, and Bishop Dennis Drainville of the Anglican Diocese of Quebec will be there.
The newlyweds were invited to attend a service at Quebec City's Anglican cathedral, the world's oldest outside the British Isles, but opted instead for the service at sea even though the cathedral had a spot ready made for them.
"One of the remarkable features of course is the fact that there is a place here, a royal box, so that any sovereign or member of the royal family that comes here has the opportunity of sitting there." Drainville said.
But far from feeling snubbed, Drainville appreciates the young couple's detachment from the protocols of the past in opting for a non-traditional service.
"To have someone who, in their position as head of state, knows and understands the needs and aspirations of the people, this is important," he said. "And I believe this is what Prince William is going to be learning while he's here."
Further strengthening that learning will be a visit to a drop-in centre for troubled youth in the Old City.
Founded in 1991, la Maison Dauphine offers young people living on the margins basic health care, hot meals, and the chance to turn their lives around.
The duke and duchess have asked for a private talk with a small group so they can hear people's stories.
"If someone told me in my past you're going to see the royal couple someday, maybe the future king, I would say like hell yeah, you're kidding right?" one of the centre's visitor's told CTV's Kai Nagata. "But no! It's going to happen."
The centre's director says the couple's visit shows a sincere desire to help and learn.
"That tells me they really want to do something for the kids, for the youth, not for the media," said Huguette Lepine. "And that I like a lot."
Meanwhile, a new poll released Wednesday by Angus Reid confirms once again that a majority of Quebecers would prefer Canada cut ties with the monarchy, but very few are actually upset about William and Kate setting foot in the province.
In fact, the most popular reaction among those surveyed was indifference.