- Associated Press - Monday, May 19, 2014

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) - Prince Charles reflected on Canada’s contribution to World War II as he and his wife Camilla were greeted by hundreds of people Monday in Halifax on the first full day of a short visit to Canada.

People bundled up against chilly weather and a light mist hung over Grand Parade, a square in front of city hall, as the Prince of Wales was officially welcomed to Canada by Gov. Gen. David Johnston, politicians and an aboriginal elder. A 21-gun royal salute echoed through the city’s downtown as the prince inspected an honor guard.

The royal couple also laid a wreath at the cenotaph and mingled with people during a walkabout around the square. The Duchess of Cornwall’s outfit included Nova Scotia’s blue and green tartan.

The visit to Canada will see the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall visit Pictou, Nova Scotia, Charlottetown and Winnipeg.

It is the couple’s second Canadian tour since 2012.

The prince said he has fond memories of an unplanned visit to Halifax 42 years ago as a naval officer through “an act of God” when the propeller of the ship he was serving on became tangled in fishing net and cable.

“An American net, of course,” he joked.

Ashley Mah, 20, said she missed a chance to see Charles’ son, Prince William, and his wife Kate in 2011.

“I was really upset when I missed out on seeing Will and Kate come a couple of years back, so I figured now that I have the opportunity to actually come out and take part in an event like this it would be kind of silly to pass up on it,” she said.

Carolyn Arsenault spoke to Prince Charles and Camilla as they were leaving the square.

“I told them I thought they had the best love story in the world,” said Arsenault, carrying a small Canadian flag.

Later Monday, Charles and Camilla are scheduled to meet with war brides in Halifax at Pier 21, the home of Canada’s National Museum of Immigration.

An estimated 48,000 young women from Britain and other European countries met and wedded Canadian servicemen during WWII, according the website of Veterans Affairs Canada.

Despite an official army policy discouraging such marriages, the Canadian government ended up assisting many of the women who then emigrated to Canada, a trip that involved difficulties including expensive trans-Atlantic travel and abrupt separation from their families and culture when their soldier husbands were called back home, sometimes after years of living in Europe.

Pier 21 was the entry point to Canada by ocean liner for thousands of immigrants, refugees, war brides and children who were taken out of Britain. It was also where 500,000 Canadian military personnel left home to serve during World War II.

Charles commented on Canada’s contribution of so many soldiers, sailors and airmen to the liberation of Europe.

“An extraordinary contribution from a country with a population much less than it is now,” he said.

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