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Royals en route - without anyone to squeeze William's toothpaste

Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, board a plane bound for Canada at London's Heathrow Airport on June 30, 2011.

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Prince William and Catherine touch down in Ottawa to begin their nine-day tour of Canada on Thursday - their first official international visit ever as newlyweds. It is planned with military precision and with everything documented to the last detail: Security is tight, media must be in their positions hours in advance of the royal couple's arrival at various venues and Stephen Harper's cabinet ministers will be front and centre at many of the events.

But there is much more. Prince William's suspicious nature means a smaller entourage and no one to squeeze toothpaste on his toothbrush, according to royal biographer Andrew Morton. Is Catherine really allergic to horses? And if so what does that mean when she gets into that horse-drawn landau for a trip to Parliament Hill on Friday? And does she really love Anne of Green Gables?

Here's a look at how the royal couple's tour will measure up:

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1. Historic parallels. The first royal tour to Canada took place 225 years ago in 1786. Coincidentally, Prince William, who later became King William IV, was the royal visitor. Like the current Prince William, the elder William also held the rank of lieutenant in the Royal Navy.

2 Apocryphal stories? (a) According to The Daily Mail, Catherine is allergic to horses, which could makes things difficult when the couple travel on Canada Day from the National Gallery of Canada to Parliament Hill by horse-drawn state landau. There has never been any official confirmation of this allergy, which would be especially troubling for a new member of a royal family that seems to love everything equine. If she is sniffling, however, Canadians will know why.

(b) Catherine loves Anne of Green Gables books and had asked especially to travel to Prince Edward Island. This has never been officially confirmed, either. While the couple is doing many events on the island, including dragon boat races and other beach activities, they are not visiting Green Gables at Cavendish, considered the home of the fictional Anne. The concession to Anne? There will be a couple of characters from the Anne of Green Gables musical at one of the events.

Jane Taber awaits the royal arrival

3. Music inspired by the romance. A new piece of music, written just for the royal couple, will be played for the first time on July 1 when William and Catherine attend a citizenship ceremony at Gatineau's Museum of Civilization. The piece, created by the Pipe Major with the agreement of the royal couple, is called St. Andrews Courtship and is inspired, of course, by the university in Scotland where they first met.

4. A night out. William and Catherine will not only attend the more protocol-laden noon concert Canada Day concert on Parliament Hill, but they will also be slipping out from Rideau Hall that evening around 9 p.m. to take in part of the night-time concert. Royals haven't done this before. They will stay for about half an hour. Expect a relaxed and casual young couple, taking in the Canadian bands.

5. Hordes of press. There are 1,396 accredited journalists; 1,122 are from Canada with 274 international journalists, including 97 from Britain. A plane is being chartered to fly the press into PEI.

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6. The cost. The tour is costing Canadian Heritage $1.5-million but that doesn't include the costs of security, National Defence and some travel. The total price tag will be much more.

7. Mugging for the camera. How many Harper cabinet ministers will be able to get their pictures taken with William and Kate? In Ottawa, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will greet the couple when they arrive. In addition to his portfolio, Mr. Baird is the senior minister for the capital city. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney will also play host to the couple at the Canadian citizenship ceremony in Gatineau, Que. And James Moore, the Heritage Minister, will accompany them on much of the tour. And in PEI, Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield is expected to be at the search-and-rescue demonstration in Summerside.

8. Flying in style. Canada is the only Commonwealth country that continues to fly its royal family on a military plane to its jurisdiction. This, according to Kevin MacLeod, the Canadian secretary to the Queen, is highly symbolic. He will personally be aboard the DND Airbus along a Canadian police officer and an equerry as the royal couple cross into Canadian airspace in the mid-Atlantic.

9. Scaled-down entourage. Andrew Morton, who penned a biography of Diana, the late Princess of Wales and William's mother, said on CTV's Question Period Sunday that he is not surprised that the William and Catherine entourage is much smaller than the usual royal entourages.

"I think the days of the dresses, the valets and the rest of it, certainly as far as William is concerned, are over," said Mr. Morton, who just released a book on the newlyweds. "He's a very suspicious character. He doesn't like too many people in his life because he feels that they will leak information about him, and so he's kept a pretty tight ship. And I think that they're setting out a mark here that this is a far more austere workman-like royal family than - or certainly royal couple - than you've seen in the past. I mean, you know, I don't think you're going to see what Prince Charles does; he employs a guy to squeeze the toothpaste on his toothbrush at night."

10. The Diana comparisons. Mr. Morton says they are inevitable but positive. "But I think what is remarkable is just how quickly Catherine has established her own sense of style. ... She always seems very confident, very composed. And she's a young woman who, during her student days, liked to tread the boards, she liked to be an actress, and you can see that in her, in the way that she really quite enjoys the spotlight in a way that Diana, you know, in those first few royal visits was like a rabbit in the headlights."

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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