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Mixed reception for royal couple in Quebec City

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge speak with guests at a ceremony at city hall in Quebec City, Sunday July 3, 2011.

Adrian Wyld/CP/Adrian Wyld/CP

Prince William used his visit to Quebec City to heap praise on the Royal 22nd Regiment.

"Your reputation is as strong as it is legendary" he said of the famed Van Doos after inspecting the troops outside City Hall.

The "freedom of the city" ceremony in which the royal couple participated dates back to 1748.

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The Duke of Cambridge said he was speaking as a "soldier and an airman" and took the time to speak to many of the Van Doos personally.

The soldiers were in full dress regalia, including bearskin hats and red serge.

The Duke, who made his speech entirely in French, also praised the Quebecois more generally for their "joie de vivre" and "incredible pride."

Quebec Premier Jean Charest, for his part, lauded the economic, political and cultural ties between Quebec and Britain.

About a block away, a rowdy group of protectors noisily denounced the monarchy.

But their chants and foghorns were but a distant din and drowned out by the well-wishers -- from appearances, most of them tourists -- chanting "Will and Kate, Will and Kate."

In Quebec, unlike Montreal, the protesters were kept at bay so the royal couple did an impromptu walkabout, much to the delight of onlookers.

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Hannah Hoelscher, a 20-year-old student from Rutland, Vermont, spoke to both the Duke and Duchess.

"I told Kate she was beautiful and she smiled really nicely," she said.

David Cheater, a British expatriate living in Quebec City, said the Prince made a beeline to him because he was wearing an Aston Villa jersey. The Prince is a fan of the soccer team.

By the time the royal couple had waded into the crowd protesters had largely dispersed.

Patrick Bourgeois, leader of the fringe separatist group Reseau de resistance du Quebecois said the group's goal was to make the royal visit "as unpleasant as possible."

In 2009 the group disrupted a visit by Prince Charles to Quebec City, forcing him to sneak into an event through the back door.

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Determined to avoid an embarrassing scene this time, police kept the group far away.

Earlier in the day, at a prayer service on board HMCS Montreal, Kate donned a navy lace Jacquenta dress by Canadian designer Erdem.

The Prince, for his part, could be seen loosening his tie and collar in response to the stifling heat and humidity.

The royal couple had a private lunch at La Citadelle, the Quebec City home of the Governor-General.

At there final stop in Quebec, the Duke and Duchess were greeted warmly by a large crowd at Levis Forts national historic site.

The couple again made a point of speaking to well-wishers in French.

Kate wore a beige Vanessa crepe sleeveless dress while Prince William opted for a casual shirt without a tie.

The next stop on the tour is Charlottetown.

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About the Author
Public health reporter

André Picard is a health reporter and columnist at The Globe and Mail, where he has been a staff writer since 1987. He is also the author of three bestselling books.André has received much acclaim for his writing. More

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