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Prince Charles, Camilla visit Ukrainian church in Ottawa as gesture of support

Day in Ottawa included wreath-laying at the National War Memorial, tour of the famed ByWard Market
Prince Charles places a wreath as he and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, visit the National War Memorial in Ottawa, while on their Canadian Royal Tour, Wednesday May 18, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, lit candles and listened to a prayer service on Wednesday inside a gilded Ukrainian Orthodox cathedral in Ottawa, while congregants and onlookers waved blue-and-yellow flags and Union Jacks outside.

The royals visited the church as a gesture of their support for the war-ravaged country on the second day of their Platinum Jubilee tour of Canada. A priest told the couple the community sincerely appreciates the support of the Royal Family.

“Your country is truly a friend of Ukraine, having extended a helping hand, not only militarily but also as fellow citizens of our planet. We will never, never forget that,” said Father Ihor Kutash.

The prince and Camilla arrived in Canada on Tuesday, spending the day in Newfoundland and Labrador before flying to the national capital in the evening. Their busy day in Ottawa on Wednesday included a wreath-laying at the National War Memorial and a tour of the famed ByWard Market.

Outside the Blessed Virgin Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral, the crowd chanted “Slava Ukraini,” which means glory to Ukraine. Among those gathered was Iryna Bloshenko, who arrived in Canada from Dnipro in the besieged country just four weeks ago.

“I am very happy, very excited to see the royals,” she said, waving a Ukrainian flag. “We appreciate the royals’ support for Ukraine.”

Ruslan Rovishen, a Ukrainian who lives in Ottawa, also said he appreciates the royals coming and added he’s “praying with them for peace in Ukraine.”

“It has been my dream since childhood to see the British Royal Family. I am excited they are here.”

After attending the prayer service, the royal couple met with a Ukrainian family who fled the Russian invasion.

Crowds have grown throughout the day, and by early afternoon the couple was swarmed by a large group of well-wishers and royal watchers at Ottawa’s ByWard Market.

Kiki Malia said he had goosebumps in anticipation of meeting Prince Charles. He and his companions were planning to have lunch in the market when they heard the prince and the duchess were on their way.

They picked up some flowers from the local flower stand to offer to the couple.

“It’s a thrill,” Malia said.

Prince Charles and Camilla made their way through the market to the Beaver Tails stand, where Mayor Jim Watson and the local city councillor Mathieu Fleury said they recommended the “Killaloe Sunrise” flavour.

Robert Charles Hupe, who owns the maple syrup shack in the market, said he found out last week he’d be getting a chance to introduce his wares to the royals. He planned to highlight his maple butter, although royal etiquette dictates he can’t offer to send them home with some unless they ask.

His mother named him after the prince, he said, and he’s been looking forward to meeting his namesake.

“They’re a living fairy tale really,” Hupe said.

At Assumption Elementary School, Camilla sat down to read to a grade one and two class before visiting older students in a French immersion class.

Many of the students’ families are new Canadians, and Prince Charles spoke with several parents who’ve recently immigrated.

“He’s so nice, I’m telling you,” said Fatimah Akintoye, a single mother who moved to Ottawa from Nigeria to start a better life with her five children. “And he’s so patient with us, asking questions about us.”

Kids lined up outside the school, singing O Canada as the couple left for their next event.

While touring the RCMP’s Musical Ride stables, Camilla playfully tugged the ear of a horse named William, one of several that have connections to the Royal Family. The couple’s affection for all things equine was on display as they met horses and riders alike. The RCMP and Queen Elizabeth have gifted horses to one another since 1969.

Prince Charles presented an RCMP long service medal to Commissioner Brenda Lucki, marking her 35 years with the force. The medals are presented to members “of irreproachable character.”

The special performance by the Musical Ride kicks off the 2022 tour season after two years of pandemic cancellations.

Earlier Wednesday, Prince Charles was invested as an extraordinary commander in the Order of Military Merit, which is marking its 50th anniversary this year.

“He has been there for our troops at those most important times,” said Ian McCowan, the secretary to the Governor General, who was acting as the master of ceremonies.

“During the Afghanistan campaign, visiting troops on the ground, writing to wounded soldiers, offering support to the families of the fallen, sharing our country’s pride and gratitude for service.”

The order recognizes conspicuous merit and exceptional service by active members of the Canadian Armed Forces. The prince has accepted nine honorary appointments and three honorary ranks in the Canadian Armed Forces.

The couple then travelled to the National War Memorial, where they observed a minute of silence before laying a wreath and a bouquet of flowers in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The crowd outside the memorial was modest, but Cecile Dumont wasn’t taking any chances and got there at 7 a.m. Wednesday morning.

“I wanted to get the best spot. I’m a real royalist, their No. 1 fan,” she said. “It’s history in the making, the future king is here in Ottawa.”

Following the ceremony, Prince Charles and Camilla greeted people in the crowd, one of whom handed Camilla a bouquet of orange tulips. The royals, heavily guarded by security, shook hands and spoke to people before getting in a car.

Later Wednesday, they are scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Prince Charles and Camilla’s final event of the day is a Platinum Jubilee reception at Rideau Hall.

Métis National Council President Cassidy Caron has said she intends to use that occasion to make a request for an apology from the Queen for the legacy of residential schools.

—Morgan Lowrie, Laura Osman and Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press

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