Prince William, Kate greeted by protesters

MONTREAL (AP) - Prince William’s new bride Kate countered protesters with smiles Saturday, as the royal couple came face to face with loud opposition in the French-speaking province of Quebec in a brief reversal of what has otherwise been a hugely successful trip.

About 35 protesters, including members of the separatist group Reseau de Resistance du Quebecois, or Quebecker Resistance Network, stood outside Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre in Montreal chanting “A united people will never be vanquished.”

The newlyweds were there to visit with cancer patients and the hospital’s neonatal care facility. The Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre is the largest mother-child center in Canada.

Protesters carried signs that read “Parasites go home,” `’War Criminals,” and “Your fortune came from the blood of our ancestors.”

“It’s a symbol of English dominance over Quebec,” said 30-year-old lawyer Antoine Pich of the couple’s visit.

Dressed in black capes, the protesters were drumming and booing as the royal couple’s motorcade pulled up to the hospital. William was whisked into the hospital as Kate stepped out of the car and smiled at the crowd before going in.

The demonstrations were a rare moment of criticism aimed at the young royals, who have for the most part been welcomed with open arms by Canadians eager to see the glamorous newlyweds.

The protesters were outnumbered about 10 to one by William and Kate supporters gathered outside the hospital. “Give me one good reason why you should hate someone. They’re good people,” said Elyane Lafontaine, 51.

Saturday was the couple’s quietest and least frenetic day since beginning their tour on Thursday. The trip unfolded with two days of rousing crowds and seas of well-wishers clamoring to catch a glimpse of royalty during the couple’s stay in Ottawa, the country’s English-speaking capital city.

Protesters were angry that Canada still has ties to the monarchy. Queen Elizabeth II is still the country’s figurative head of state and new Canadian citizens still pledge allegiance to the Queen during their swearing-in ceremony. Others said they were angry that taxpayer money is being used to pay for the royal tour.

Michael Behiels, an Ottawa University professor, said there was much hostility between the French and the English in the years following Great Britain’s 1759 Conquest of New France _ which is present day Quebec.

Maxime Laporte, head of the Reseau de Resistance du Quebecois, said the monarchy doesn’t represent Quebec and is illegitimate here because the province has never accepted Canada’s constitution. He called the royal tour a “nation-building exercise” funded by taxpayers.

The royal couple left the hospital and headed to the de Tourisme et D’Hotellerie du Quebec, where they were met again by a handful of protesters dominated by about 150 supporters. Many of the detractors loudly protested with megaphones and booing as the motorcade arrived.

One man perched above on a balcony earned cheers from the crowd as he chanted, before the couple arrived, “Vive le Quebec libre!”

The royal couple left the hospital and headed to the Institut de Tourisme et D’Hotellerie du Quebec, where they were met again by a handful of protesters dominated by about 150 supporters. Some spectators held signs that said, “Bienvenue Will et Kate sur Le Plateau,” which welcomes them to the trendy Montreal neighborhood where the institute is located.

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