Royals get warm welcome at Province House

Ryan Ross
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When Prince William and his wife, Kate, were in P.E.I., cab driver Bill Murray got the chance to shake their hands, put pins on their lapels and have a brief chat.

This time around, Murray said he was hoping to see another big crowd for another royal visit.

“It’s royalty. It piques everybody’s interest,” Murray said.

On Monday night, he was out with more than 1,000 people for the Victoria Day festivities at Province House to celebrate Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla’s, visit to P.E.I.

Murray, who said he considered himself to be a royal watcher, thought the monarchy was still important because it was a part of Canadian and Island culture.

Over the more than 20 years he has lived in P.E.I., Murray has seen several members of the royal family, but said it never loses any of its impact.

“It never does because you get that 30 seconds of fame, you get a chance to meet and greet with them and then over the years as it passes and fades away you always get a chance to see them in the limelight on different shows and different news articles and you always reflect back on that moment.”

Murray was ready to meet Charles and Camilla if the chance arose and brought a postcard on which he wished the couple well, just in case he got close enough.

“If not at least I got an opportunity to see them up close and personal,” Murray said.

Nicholas Whalen stood out among the royal watchers in his sparkling, fake-fur trimmed crown and said it was important to celebrate both the country’s future and its past.

“The head of state for me is a really important element of who I am personally and I’m just putting a lot of emphasis on that.”

Whalen was also supportive of the monarchy because he said Queen Elizabeth has acknowledged the gay community, which was important to him.

“I certainly recognize the pomp and circumstance and the celebratory element of the monarchy but for me personally that is a big part of it.”

Like some of the other people out to see the royal tour, Whalen said he went to see William and Kate while they were in P.E.I. and found the latest visit was less impressive.

“Obviously Will and Kate were more celebrities but at the same time Camilla and Charles are the next in line to throne and I think it’s equally important that we celebrate their presence here in P.E.I.”

Andrew Kielly was with a small group of people who went to Province House to support the cultural festivities that were part of the Victoria Day events and said they would have been out regardless of the royal visit.

But despite that, Kielly said it’s always interesting to be part of that type of event because it doesn’t happen very often.

“Everybody’s out here and they’re out here enjoying themselves and having fun so it’s nice to be part of that as well.”

Although the crowd to see Charles and Camilla was much smaller than during the last royal visit, Kielly said he thinks the Royal Family will always be an attraction.

“Things gradually do fade over time but yet it’s still, I think, an important thing and a thing of interest to a lot of people.”

Organizations: Province House

Geographic location: Iceland, P.E.I.

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