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William, Kate again face Quebec protests
QUEBEC CITY (AP) — The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge — better known as Prince William and the former Kate Middleton — faced more protests by French-speaking separatists Sunday after arriving in Quebec City on a Canadian navy frigate that sailed down the picturesque St. Lawrence River.
The newlyweds are on the fourth day of a nine-day trip to Canada in what is their first official overseas trip since their April 29 wedding.
The duke and duchess encountered small but vocal protests in Montreal, the French-speaking province’s biggest city, on Saturday after being cheered by tens of thousands the previous day in Canada’s largely English-speaking capital, Ottawa.
William and Kate sang hymns as they took part in a bilingual interfaith prayer service on the deck of the HMCS Montreal, which docked in Quebec City after an overnight trip from Montreal. They then headed ashore for a meeting with residents of La Maison Dauphine, a center that helps homeless youths.
Police were out in force in downtown Quebec City. More than 150 protesters, some wearing black and waving flags, demonstrated about two blocks from City Hall, where William was due to make remarks.
The protesters chanted, “RRQ,” the initials of the anti-monarchist, separatist group Reseau de Resistance du Quebecois, or Quebecker Resistance Network, which organized the protests in Montreal and Quebec City.
Police set up barriers to keep the protesters away from City Hall, but the demonstrators brought a pickup truck with audio equipment and speakers so their chants could be heard. They carried signs reading, “Pay your own way” and “The monarchy, it’s over.”
The visit touches a sensitive nerve among French-speaking separatists because William and Kate later Sunday afternoon were to visit the Citadelle, a fortified residence at the foot of the Plains of Abraham, the site of the pivotal 1759 battle in which British forces defeated the French to seal the conquest of New France.
Vocal yet vastly outnumbered protesters failed to cause any disruption to the royal couple’s events in Montreal on Saturday, other than aggravating some of the pair’s supporters.
About 35 protesters, including members of the Quebecker Resistance Network, stood outside Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre in Montreal. They were outnumbered about 10 to one by the royal couple’s supporters gathered outside the children’s hospital where the newlyweds visited cancer patients and the hospital’s neonatal care facility.
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 for the most part have been welcomed with open arms by Canadians eager to see the glamorous newlyweds.
After leaving the hospital, the royal couple 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.
Once inside, Kate and William donned aprons and took part in a cooking workshop at the facility, which is a government agency that conducts training and research in the hotel, tourism and food service industries.
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