Prince Charles in Newfoundland to begin his Canadian tour

ST. JOHN’S, Newfoundland (AP) – Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, arrived Friday in St. John’s, Newfoundland, to begin a three-day Canadian tour to mark the 70th anniversary of the accession to the his mother’s throne.

The royal couple’s itinerary includes stops in Ottawa and the Northwest Territories as well as a welcome ceremony at the Newfoundland Provincial Legislative Assembly with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state of Canada, a member of the British Commonwealth of the former colonies.

“At a time when the global institutions of democracy seem terribly fragile, Canada is a model of determination and humanity,” said Charles. “Today more than ever, we need the initiative, compassion and humanity of Canadians.

Earlier Tuesday, Trudeau said reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous peoples would be part of the discussions Charles and Camilla would engage in during their visit. But the Prime Minister avoided answering when asked if he thought the Queen should apologize for the legacy of residential schools.

From the 19th century until the 1970s, more than 150,000 First Nations children had to attend publicly funded Christian schools as part of a program to assimilate them into Canadian society. They were forced to convert to Christianity and were not allowed to speak their native languages. Many were beaten and verbally abused, and up to 6,000 people are believed to have died.

Charles and Camilla will participate in a prayer of reconciliation with Indigenous leaders. Métis National Council President Cassidy Caron said she intended to seek an apology from the prince and duchess at a reception in Ottawa on Wednesday.

Elizabeth, 96, Britain’s longest-serving monarch, has stopped international travel and drastically reduced her public duties, although she made a surprise visit to a central London train station on Tuesday to see a newly completed metro line named in his honor.

Last week, she asked her son and heir to the throne to preside over the official opening of Britain’s Parliament and deliver the Queen’s Speech, which sets out the government’s legislative agenda.

The royal couple’s tour of Canada comes as some Caribbean countries are considering removing the Queen as head of state. Barbados severed ties with the Queen in November, moving from a constitutional monarchy to a republic. Jamaica also talked about becoming a republic but did nothing.

Trudeau said Canadians do not want constitutional change and have other priorities.

Overall, the anti-royal movement in Canada is tiny, meaning Charles will almost certainly be King of Canada one day. One of the reasons is that abolishing the monarchy would mean changing the constitution. It’s an inherently risky undertaking, given how delicately it’s designed to unite a nation of 34 million that includes English speakers, French speakers, indigenous tribes and a steady stream of new immigrants.

Most Canadians are indifferent to the monarchy, even though the Queen is their titular head of state and is depicted on their coins and stamps, and has visited them 22 times as head of state.

“The Queen has asked me to send her best wishes in this special year and to express her deep affection for Canada and all Canadians. Throughout her life since her first visit to Canada in 1951, Her Majesty has become very attached to Canada,” said Charles.

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