NEW YORK — Canadians welcomed Prince William and his new wife, Catherine, with open arms as they celebrated their national holiday Friday.
The newlyweds were greeted by tens of thousands of red-and-white-clad citizens outside the parliament building in the capital, Ottawa.
Catherine also chose to wear the Canadian national colors, with a bright red hat and cream dress topped with a brooch in the shape of Canada’s national symbol, the maple leaf, from Queen Elizabeth II’s collection.
The visit to Parliament Hill was to be among the highlights of their first official international travel as a married couple. Canada was marking its 144th birthday with parades and parties. In Ottawa alone, half a million visitors were expected. Canada is home to 34 million people.
“Catherine and I are also thrilled and excited by the prospect of the next eight days, especially of being part of the Canadian family,” William said in remarks to the crowd. “It will be an adventure that we’ll never forget. Merci, Canada.”
He gave remarks in both English and French to the bilingual Canadians and spoke of Catherine’s grandfather’s fond memories of the country where he trained during World War II.
Bearing greetings from his grandmother, who is the head of state of the commonwealth country, he wished Canada “happy birthday.”
Canada Day marks the signing of the country’s first constitution in 1867. This year the day also fell on what would have been the 50th birthday of William’s mother, Diana, who died in a car accident 14 years ago.