There are big plans for when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit Kelowna later this month, but local royal watchers may not get what they’re looking for.
Prince William and Kate have two stops on their itinerary—Mission Hill Family Estate and UBC Okanagan— and both are shaping up to be quite exclusive.
In the initial release about the visit, the royal couple was said to be at Mission Hill for an event called “Taste of British Columbia,” which would showcase the province’s agri-food and seafood industries. It wasn’t clear how the greater community would be able to access that event.
“The event at Mission Hill is by invitation only,” read a comment from the Department of Canadian Heritage, when the question was asked. “The guests are selected by the Government of British Columbia.”
That leaves only UBC Okanagan for public viewing of the royal couple, although that won’t be the easiest feat either.
The Duke and Duchess will attend an invitation only demonstration volleyball game and a public art dedication in the university’s courtyard.
Heritage Canada pointed to the university’s work in environmental sciences and the relationship its built with the Okanagan Nation Alliance when they announced the visit, and keeping with that theme a sculpture by an aboriginal artist will be formally unveiled and the royal couple will make some comments to the community.
“We’re absolutely delighted that they chose to visit our campus,” said Deborah Buszard, UBC deputy vice-chancellor and principal, noting that it was fitting that the relationship with First Nation communities would be a focal point. “(UBC Okanagan) began with a partnership with the Okanagan Nation.”
Buszard said the university is anticipating a lot of focus on the open portion of the event, although specifics on how the surge in campus population will be accommodated have yet to be hammered out. The courtyard of UBC Okanagan is relatively small when compared to City Park, where the Prince Charles and Diana visit was held in the run-up to Expo ’86, so royal watchers may be disappointed if they don’t plan ahead.
“I can say we have limited parking, so if people are thinking of coming out to see the royal family, they will have to take public transit,” she said, adding that arrangements to have special bus service may be in the works.
In addition to their stop in Kelowna during the B.C. tour that spans from Sept. 24 to Oct. 1, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be visiting Vancouver, Victoria, Bella Bella and Haida Gwaii.
“I know all British Columbians will extend a warm welcome to their royal highnesses as we share the very best of our province,” said Premier Christy Clark.
Kensington Palace issued a statement about the tour, saying it will take the royal couple “from the bustling global city of Vancouver – population 2.5 million – to the remote and beautiful Bella Bella, home to less than 2,000 people. Along the way they will meet as many Canadians as possible, and will help celebrate Canada’s First Nations communities, its arts and culture, pristine and beautiful environment, and its compassionate and innovative charitable sector.”
Prince William and Kate will be part of more than 30 engagements over the week.
The palace wants the visit to “deepen their relationship with a country that they will visit many times over the course of their lives. They want to help the people of British Columbia and Yukon to celebrate what makes Canada great and to showcase some amazing places to the rest of the world.”
The last time the Royal couple was in Canada was in 2011, but this visit marks the first for Prince George and Princess Charlotte.
The Government of Canada pays for the costs of the royal events. The Governments of British Columbia and Yukon pay for the costs of their events. Cost sharing agreements are worked out between the Government of Canada, the province of British Columbia and the Yukon territory for other costs.
The final costs are made public once the Royal Tour is over.
Security costs are the responsibility of the RCMP and local police forces. It’s unclear as of yet how the local RCMP will accommodate the cost of this visit,