Canada royal tour: Duke and duchess plant hemlock tree

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge plant a Hemlock tree in Ottawa, Canada The duke and duchess took turns using a shovel to plant the Hemlock tree

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have carried out their first official tree-planting ceremony as husband and wife.

They planted a Canadian hemlock in the grounds of Government House, in Ottawa, Canada, at the start of the third day of their first official overseas tour.

The royal couple later joined a reception for Canadian servicemen, war veterans and their families.

They then flew to Montreal in the French-speaking province of Quebec where there were small protests.

Earlier, the royal couple each held a shovel as they planted the Eastern Hemlock, an evergreen tree known for its longevity.

Moment's pause

They planted the tree close to a Pin Oak planted by Prince Charles and Princess Diana on 21 June, 1983, William's first birthday.

The duke paused for a moment as he was shown the plaque bearing his late mother's name.

They chatted with Canadian newlyweds who share their wedding day of 29 April, and couples celebrating their 40th, 50th, 60th and 70th wedding anniversaries.

Catherine smiled as Adrienne Charlebois, celebrating 50 years of marriage to her husband Denny, told her: "I hope you will be as fortunate as we have been in our marriage."

The royal couple replied: "We hope so too."

After two days in Canada where the duke and duchess have been treated, in the words of one newspaper, like a rock star couple, they have had a slightly different but not surprising reception in Quebec.

One of the banners displayed by a radical group seeking independence for French-speaking Quebec read "parasites go home".

Not all in the crowd opposed the visit. Another poster declared, "Will and Kate we love you."

Independence for Quebec has been, at times, a fraught issue for decades. The last time it was put to the vote, separation was rejected in a referendum by a small margin.

Away from the protest the couple are visiting a children's hospital and a catering college where they'll help prepare a meal. Montreal is known for its food. William's not known for his cooking skills.

The duchess wore a grey Kensington dress by Catherine Walker, the same designer chosen by her mother Carole for her daughter's wedding in April, and a favourite of the late Princess of Wales.

Many of the royals, including the Queen, have planted trees on previous visits to Canada in a tradition spanning more than 70 years.

During the ceremony the couple met a cancer victim who was recently told he had only 12 weeks to live.

Wheelchair-user Terry Joyce, 47, from Ottawa, wept as he spoke of the joy meeting the couple had brought.

"I was told a week ago I would be meeting them and I have been looking forward to it ever since," he told reporters.

"It has been one of the best days of my life."

After the tree-planting ceremony the couple made a private visit to the unknown warrior memorial at the Canadian War Museum.

Hospital visit

In Montreal, they were visiting the Sainte-Justine University hospital for children and a cookery school before sailing up the St Lawrence River to Quebec City on the Canadian frigate HMCS Montreal.

The schedule included a private visit to the hospital's neo-natal clinic and meeting children in the art therapy room.

2011 itinerary highlights

The Duchess and Duke of Cambridge
  • 30 June: Arrival in Ottawa
  • 1 July: Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa
  • 2 July: Visit to a cookery school in Montreal
  • 3 July: Freedom of the city ceremony in Quebec City
  • 4 July: Prince William takes part in Sea King helicopter training session on Prince Edward Island
  • 5 July: Visit to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories
  • 7 July: Arrival in Calgary
  • 8 July: Attend Calgary Stampede. Leave for US

There were some protesters carrying signs in both French and English outside the hospital but they were outnumbered by well-wishers.

On Friday, the duke and duchess were guests of honour as they celebrated Canada Day in the capital Ottawa.

At a citizenship ceremony the royal couple presented national flags to 25 new Canadians who had come from 12 different countries.

About 100,000 people joined events on Parliament Hill as part of a national holiday to mark the country's 144th birthday.

The duchess wore a purple dress by Issa - with a maple leaf brooch loaned to her by the Queen - as they watched a lavish fireworks display.

On Sunday, the couple will receive the freedom of Quebec city in a special ceremony.

The couple are visiting seven Canadian cities in eight days in their first official overseas tour.

Also on the itinerary are Prince Edward Island, the Northwest Territories, Alberta and Calgary.

The cost of the visit to the Canadian government, not including security, is estimated to be 1.4 million Canadian dollars (£958,580).

The duke and duchess will travel to the US state of California for two days from 8 July, attending a black-tie Bafta reception and dinner in Los Angeles on 9 July. Prince William is Bafta's president.

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