From coast to coast, Canadians’ cautious anticipation quickly gave way to cheers of jubilation Monday as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joyfully welcomed their baby boy into the world. As announced on television screens and electronic devices everywhere, the little prince made his long-awaited arrival at 4:24 p.m., British time, weighing in at 8 lbs. 6 oz. Mother, babe and father are said to be well and thrilled at the momentous occasion.
Canadians’ fascination with, and deep affection for, the young Royals began two years ago, as the newlyweds chose Canada for their first official trip abroad. It became all the more poignant as the young couple took a special detour from their Royal itinerary to comfort the bereft residents of Slave Lake, the small Alberta town devastated by forest fires.
On Monday, well wishes poured in, from British Columbia to Prince Edward Island, as Canadians heard the news. Shortly following Clarence House’s announcement of the birth, Prime Minister Stephen Harper took to social media as he tweeted, “On behalf of all Canadians, I offer our heartfelt congratulations to the Royal Couple and the entire Royal Family.” In an official statement, he later added, “The arrival of the newest member of the Royal Family, a future sovereign of Canada, is a highly anticipated moment for Canadians given the special and warm relationship that we share our Royal Family. Canadians are delighted to learn of the birth… This new beginning reminds us of the remarkable and enduring relationship our country has enjoyed with generations of the Royal Family.”
Governor-General David Johnston, the Queen’s representative, was equally thrilled for the young Royals: “Wonderful news! Sharon and I are overjoyed to learn that the Royal couple are the proud parents of a baby boy.” He also wrote, “My wife, Sharon, and I would like to extend our warmest congratulations to Their Royal Highness The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the occasion of the birth of their son. Sharon and I have five wonderful daughters and ten delightful grandchildren and know well the elation that a new arrival brings to a young family. We know that this happy event brings great joy not only to Their Royal Highnesses, but to the entire nation as well. May the years to come with this child be filled with love and pride for all members of the royal family.”
According to Carolyn Harris, royal history expert at the University of Toronto, without a clear due date, Canadians were hesitant to organize large celebrations as they had for the Royal Wedding. Yet, “every time something like this happens, it’s almost as if the whole thing reboots itself,” says Cian Horrobin, vice-chairman of the Ontario chapter of the Monarchist League of Canada. “Now, we’re going to have a whole new generation with a new way to relate [to the Royal Family].”
Indeed, once the birth was announced, a festive mood spread nationwide as people gathered for tea parties, garden parties and baby-naming parties. They took to the streets, lining up at local pubs to watch the continuous all-day television coverage while sipping a pint in honour of the future king. At hospitals, such as Lakeridge Health in Oshawa, newborns were greeted with makeshift paper crowns, while moms feasted on jam and crumpets.
While Britain’s Royal Mint prepared to hand out 2,013 silver coins to babies born on the same day as the Prince, the Monarchist League sent out a press release, offering ideas as to how to throw charity-themed royal baby showers, and suggested a list of charities that could benefit from donations to commemorate the birth of the new royal. The League also requested the lighting of national landmarks, and indeed, the CN Tower, the Federal Parliament’s Peace Tower in Ottawa and Niagara Falls were lit in royal blue for the occasion.
At Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York Hotel – where Her Majesty the Queen has stayed on several occasions – guests filled large guest books with their wishes for the new parents as they were treated to special blueberry mojitos in honour of the male heir, as well as the Duke and Duchess’ favourite pastries and champagne.
In addition to making a guest book available for well-wishers, Victoria’s Fairmont Empress Hotel organized a most successful charity drive in the Prince of Cambridge’s honour, gathering toys, clothes and gift cards for local children’s charities.
And in the media world, while the Royal Couple grace every magazine, newspaper and television screen in sight, several publications are planning special keepsake editions to commemorate the special arrival.
Tomorrow, Canadians will continue to be glued to their all-day news channels, as they anxiously await the future king’s very public debut on the front steps of the private Lindo hospital wing. Could the announcement of the little prince’s Royal name and the chosen godparents be far behind?