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Charles, Camilla in Canada

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla were greeted by hundreds of people Monday at Halifax city hall as they were officially welcomed to Canada on the first full day of a four-day visit that will see them visit three provinces.

People were bundled up against chilly weather and a light mist hung over Grand Parade, a square in front of city hall, as the Prince of Wales was welcomed by Gov. Gen. David Johnston, politicians, military officers and aboriginal elders. A 21-gun royal salute echoed through the city's downtown as the prince inspected an honour guard.

The grey weather was used by Charles to get a laugh from those who lined the square to hear him speak.

"It is, as always, a special joy to be back in Canada again, a place that is very dear to us both," he said. "This time to be in Canada's historic ocean gateway to the Atlantic at the official start of summer."

The royal couple also laid a wreath at the cenotaph and mingled with people during a walkabout around the square. Camilla's outfit included Nova Scotia tartan.

The visit to Canada will see the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall also visit Pictou, N.S., Charlottetown and Winnipeg.

This is the couple's second Canadian tour since 2012, but it's the first time Camilla has visited the three provinces.

Charles was last in Manitoba 18 years ago, and he visited the two Maritime provinces in 1983.

The prince said he has fond memories of coming to Halifax 42 years ago as a naval officer through "an act of God" when the propeller of the ship he was serving on became tangled in fishing net and cable.

"An American net, of course," he joked.

Later Monday, Charles and Camilla are scheduled to meet with war brides in Halifax at Pier 21, the home of Canada's National Museum of Immigration.

The port was the entry point to Canada by ocean liner for thousands of immigrants, refugees, war brides and children who were taken out of Britain. It was also where 500,000 Canadian military personnel left to serve during the Second World War.

Charles reflected on Canada's contribution of so many military personnel to the liberation of Europe as the Allies get ready to mark 75th anniversary of the start of the Second World War

"An extraordinary contribution from a country with a population with much less than it is now," he said.

Charles also recalled how his grandmother, the Queen Mother, told Canadians almost 75 years ago in Halifax how they people in this country made her and the king feel as though they were glad to see them.

"Being with you here today, my wife and I have felt that Nova Scotians and Canadians are offering us what I can only describe as a thousand welcomes," he said.

The Canadian Press

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