Top Stories of 2016: The Royal visit

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visiting Kelowna was one of 2016's top stories.

The Royal visit to Kelowna was one of the top stories of the year in 2016.

How often does royalty make its way to the Okanagan?

Once in a generation. That’s what makes the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visiting Kelowna a newsmaker.

The royal couple arrived in Kelowna at the end of September for a whirlwind visit of UBC Okanagan and Mission Hill winery.

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They didn’t make any public statements during the visit, but the few private conversations struck as they moved through the campus had local royalists reeling.

Among those who spoke with the royal couple at some length was 19-year-old Aidan Lea, a UBC Okanagan women’s volleyball player. She, along with her team, played a demonstration game for Prince William and Kate, who joined them on the court when it was completed.

“He was remarking on the level of competition and how impressed he was by that and by what amazing facilities we have here and how lucky we are to play by such an amazing school,” Lea said.

The prince also commented on Lea’s impressive stature of six-foot-five, and from the crowd, it seemed he used that as a jumping point to start charming the team.

“He was very charismatic, really friendly it was really nice talking to him,” said Lea.

“I’m really honoured to have had a conversation with the future king of England.”

The Duchess offered similar comments about the level of play for the UBC Okanagan team, and chatted them up for some time.

“It was such an honour to meet her,” said Lea. “She’s so beautiful and so elegant.”

Prince William and Kate left the gym with a lot of fans, as well as a jersey apiece with the name Cambridge on the back.

Their children were sent stuffed animals.

Next stop was Mission Hill winery, where B.C.’s best chefs converged to show off their best cuisine.

Then, like that, they were gone.

A hefty bill will no doubt follow and questions about the relevance of such visits will once again be asked.