Squeamish Kate picks up a freshly caught fish on boat trip in Canada

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge took to a 25ft Haida war canoe to announce their arrival in a remote archipelago off the west coast of Canada today.

This was no raiding party though.

Paddling along with 10 rowers to the beat of a pacer's drum, the royal couple went to Haida Gwaii, formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands, in British Columbia on a charm offensive on the penultimate day of their eight-day tour of Canada.

Their fibreglass canoe was a replica of the traditional red cedar vessels used by the Haida Nation for centuries.

Prince Williamand the Duchess of Cambridge visit the island of Haida Gwaii. Photo / Getty Images
Prince Williamand the Duchess of Cambridge visit the island of Haida Gwaii. Photo / Getty Images


Accompanied by 10 warrior paddlers, three community leaders, and two Scotland Yard bodyguards, William and Kate - in a Smythe jacket, blouse by Somerset by Temperley, and Zara jeans - paddled for around 20 minutes through the crystal clear waters of the Kayilnagaay to a beach and heritage centre at Skidegate on Graham Island, one of 150 islands in the chain.

The couple's vessel was a replica of the community's historic Lootaa canoe - translated as 'wave eater', which is now a museum piece.

After disembarking from their canoe, William and Kate received an official welcome at the Haida Heritage Centre and Museum.

Inside the centre they were addressed by the President of the Haida Nation and watched a cultural performance from around 30 local children.

The couple walked in wearing woven raven's tail scarves around their necks - a sign of wealth and rank among the Haida people who in times gone by had to travel by canoe to trade for the wool on the mainland.

They sat entranced as they watched several displays including a woman's dance in honour of their daughter Charlotte - the Haida are a matriarchal society - and a man's in honour of George.

Kate was also left giggling after a dance to represent the Haida people's relationship with the animal and spirit worlds.

'He's looking for a princess,' said the narrator cheekily, as a man hopped around with a wooden mask in the shape of a frog.

Kate holds up a fish as Prince William looks on as they head out on a fishing trip with Skidegate youth centre children in Canada. Photo / Getty Images
Kate holds up a fish as Prince William looks on as they head out on a fishing trip with Skidegate youth centre children in Canada. Photo / Getty Images


William also gave a short address - ironically his Haida was better than the French he spoke earlier in the week. He said: 'Women of High Esteem, Chiefs, Friends, Aan t'alang isis ska-wada-gee id ga dalang kil laa, haaw - thank you very much for having us here.'

The name Haida Gwaii was created in the early 1980s to recognise the the history of the indigenous population. It means 'islands of the people'.

Legislation to formally change the name was given royal assent in 2010.

Nowadays they are renowned as the Canadian Galapagos for their endemic wildlife, which includes 140 different bird species.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge discussed maternity care on the remote island of Haida Gwaii with two young mothers when they opened a brand new hospital this afternoon.

The couple spoke to 30-year-old Vivian Roberge who was with her third child, four-month-old Eden who was born at the nearby Queen Charlotte hospital.

Eden, who was teething, caught the duke's attention.

'Good luck with that,' joked the prince when Ms Roberge told him she was teething.

Ms Roberge told the couple that she gave birth to her first child off the island and said: 'It was a very different experience to having a baby on the island. It's going to mean a lot to people here to have a hospital where they will be able to have their babies here at home.'

Kate and William arrive in a traditional canoe at Haida Heritage Centre Haida Gwaii, Canada. Photo / Getty Images
Kate and William arrive in a traditional canoe at Haida Heritage Centre Haida Gwaii, Canada. Photo / Getty Images


The new hospital has eight acute care beds and a modernised labour and birthing centre.

Carla Russ, 37, from Haida Gwaii and her three year old daughter Shyanne also met the Duke and Duchess.

Shyanne was playing on the floor with a pile of building bricks during the royal visit.

'George would love those,' said Kate and William, adding: 'they don't have much of an attention span though. Your little girl is doing very well.'

The couple also paid a visit to 89-year-old Stan McKenzie who will be the hospital's first patient when it officially opens in November.

'Are you looking forward to coming here?' Kate asked Mr Mckenzie, who has dementia but can now be cared for on the island.

William asked: 'What was the other hospital like?'

Mr Mckenzie's daughters Shirley and Darlene said their father had been looking forward to the trip for months.

'He was very excited about meeting the Duke and Duchess,' said Darlene. 'He remembers meeting the queen in Victoria in the 50s. He said it was 'pretty nice' meeting William and Kate and said how pretty Kate is.'

There was also brief plaque unveiling ceremony when Terry Lake, the Minister of Health for British Columbia, thanked the couple for coming.

'We are honoured by their visit to open the newest hotel in our province,' he said in a short speech.

William and Kate visit the island of Haida Gwaii during the Royal Tour of Canada. Photo / Getty Images
William and Kate visit the island of Haida Gwaii during the Royal Tour of Canada. Photo / Getty Images


Before leaving the new hospital - which cost 50million Canadian dollars to build - the couple unveiled the plaque and received a bouquet of flowers.

When they left the hospital they stood in the sunshine and waved at crowds who had gathered outside.

- Daily Mail

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