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The Queen's tour: Canada Day address, off to the races, a royal visit to RIM

Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip walk through the Royal Gallery in Westminster.

CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images

One of Canada's oldest symbols will meet some of its newest this summer when Queen Elizabeth clicks a BlackBerry, flies Porter Airlines and cozies up to a bronze likeness of Oscar Peterson during a whirlwind nine-day sojourn.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office released a preliminary schedule of Queen Elizabeth's Canadian visit Wednesday, slated to run from June 28 to July 6 with prominent stops in Halifax, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Toronto and Waterloo - a length and profile that amount to a warm embrace of the monarchy on the part of Mr. Harper.

The Globe and Mail has also obtained a draft version of her full itinerary.

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"It's a very diverse itinerary, which is good," said Robert Finch, chief operating officer of the Monarchist League of Canada, who has seen the comprehensive schedule. "It's important to have as many public events as possible so Canadians can get up close and personal with her.… I believe she's a model stateswoman for the world."

Starting in Halifax on June 28 and 29, Queen Elizabeth will inspect troops, nibble lunch with Defence Minister Peter MacKay and conduct a review of 21 naval ships at anchor in Bedford Basin before unveiling a plaque commemorating the 100th anniversary of the navy. The gesture will help heal a well-publicized falling-out between Buckingham Palace and some Haligonians over her office's decision to snub the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo, a large musical event inaugurated by the Queen Mother in 1979. The two sides reportedly could not agree on the type of stairs the Queen would climb to enter the stage.





Countries that have a monarchy in the Canadian sense, a constitutional monarchy, these are the countries where human rights and the rule of law flourish. Robert Finch, Monarchist League of Canada




On June 30, she'll swoop into Ottawa for a visit to the refurbished Museum of Nature and an unveiling of the Oscar Peterson statue. Cast in bronze by sculptor Ruth Abernathy, the statue will depict the late jazz great seated on a bench beside a grand piano.

The Queen, along with husband Prince Philip, will take centre stage at Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill marking the country's 143rd birthday.

Following a day's rest - possibly at Meech Lake - the Queen and the Duke will arrive at Winnipeg's new airport building to inaugurate the project. Due to be completed in the fall, the building is currently surrounded by dust, tarps and striking construction workers.

Later that day, the 84-year-old regent will review Canadian Forces veterans and unveil a plaque at the Human Rights Museum, another one of the city's massive ongoing construction projects. Word is she'll also be presenting the museum with a souvenir from Runnymede, birthplace of the Magna Carta.

"It makes for perfect symbolism," said Mr. Finch. "Countries that have a monarchy in the Canadian sense, a constitutional monarchy, these are the countries where human rights and the rule of law flourish."

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On July 4, the royal couple will be off to the races for the 151st running of the $1-million Queen's Plate at Woodbine Racetrack. The Queen has a particular love of thoroughbred racing and is an owner and breeder of racehorses in England. The Queen's Plate is normally run on the final Sunday of June, but the track moved the date of the race a week later, partly to accommodate a visit from the Queen.

She has already attended three runnings of the Queen's Plate, named after her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria. Her Majesty has attended Queen's Plates in 1959, 1973 and 1997. Thirteen years ago, Queen Elizabeth presented the winning trophy to Canadian industrialist Frank Stronach, after his Awesome Again won the race.

After her day with the ponies, the Queen will fly by Porter Airlines to the technological heart of the country in Waterloo for a tour of a production line at Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry.

Later that day, the monarch will return to Toronto for a tour of Pinewood Studios, the country's largest film production facility, before meeting with Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff at the Royal York Hotel and then noshing at an official state dinner hosted by the Prime Minister.

Queen Elizabeth will grace Canada with one last queenly wave on July 6, departing from Queen's Park with military honours and flying to New York for a speech to the UN General Assembly - her first appearance at the United Nations since 1957.

In all, the scrupulously planned tour underscores a warming in relations between Buckingham Palace and Ottawa. Previous governments have shied away from embracing the country's constitutional monarch, a contentious issue during the royal scandals of the 1990s.

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"This government has been quite favourable towards the institution of the monarchy," Mr. Finch said. "Perhaps they realize it's one of those things that doesn't belong to any one political party."

With a report from Beverley Smith

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About the Author
National reporter

Patrick previously worked in the Globe's Winnipeg bureau, covering the Prairies and Nunavut, and at Toronto City Hall. He is a National Magazine Award recipient and author of the book Mountie In Mukluks. More

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