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QUEBEC CITY — Prince William and Kate arrived Sunday in Quebec City after spending the night on a Canadian navy frigate as it sailed down the picturesque St. Lawrence Seaway, but once ashore they face more protests from French-speaking separatists.
The newlyweds are on the fourth day of a nine-day trip to Canada in what is their first official overseas trip since their April 29 wedding.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge encountered small but vocal protests in Montreal, the French-speaking province’s biggest city, on Saturday after being cheered by tens of thousands the previous day in Canada’s largely English-speaking capital of Ottawa.
Great Britain’s 1759 Conquest of New France and a desire by some French to separate from Canada is still a sensitive issue in Quebec.
Prince William and Kate sang hymns as they took part in an interfaith prayer service on the deck of the HMCS Montreal before heading ashore for a meeting with residents of La Maison Dauphine, a center that helps homeless youths.
The royal couple was likely to face more protests by French-speaking separatists outside City Hall where another protest is planned for Sunday outside City Hall where Prince William is due to make remarks.
Vocal yet vastly outnumbered protesters failed to cause any disruption to the royal couple’s events in Montreal on Saturday, other than aggravating some of the pair’s supporters.
About 35 protesters, including members of the separatist group Reseau de Resistance du Quebecois, or Quebecker Resistance Network, stood outside Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre in Montreal chanting “A united people will never be vanquished.”
The protesters were outnumbered about 10 to one by William and Kate supporters gathered outside the children’s hospital where the newlyweds visited cancer patients and the hospital’s neonatal care facility. “Give me one good reason why you should hate someone. They’re good people,” said Elyane Lafontaine, 51.
Protesters carried signs that read “Parasites go home,” ‘’War Criminals,” and “Your fortune came from the blood of our ancestors.”
“It’s a symbol of English dominance over Quebec,” said 30-year-old lawyer Antoine Pich of the couple’s visit.
Dressed in black capes, the protesters were drumming and booing as the royal couple’s motorcade pulled up to the hospital. William was whisked into the hospital as Kate stepped out of the car and smiled at the crowd before going in.
The demonstrations were a rare moment of criticism aimed at the young royals, who have for the most part been welcomed with open arms by Canadians eager to see the glamorous newlyweds.
After leaving the hospital, the royal couple headed to the Institut de Tourisme et D’Hotellerie du Quebec, where they were met again by a handful of protesters dominated by about 150 supporters.
Many of the detractors loudly protested with megaphones and booed as the motorcade arrived. There were vulgar chants about William’s grandmother Queen Elizabeth II and a few middle-finger salutes.
Once inside, Kate and William donned aprons and took part in a cooking workshop at the facility, which is a government agency that conducts training and research in the hotel, tourism and food service industries.
Wearing white cooking jackets, the pair got into the pots and pans to whip up some authentic Quebec fare. They helped make foie gras with toasted brioche, Charlevoix lamb, lobster souffle and a cheesecake-type dish with caramel and meringue. The couple also dined with Quebec Premier Jean Charest and his wife Michele.
A 2009 visit by Prince William’s father, Prince Charles, to Montreal was disrupted by more than 200 separatist protesters. The protesters sat in the street, blocking the prince’s way into a ceremony planned at an armory, and threw eggs at the soldiers who were accompanying him and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall. The couple were forced to enter the building through a back door and missed an elaborate welcoming ceremony that had been planned.
In 1990, Canada Day celebrations were disrupted briefly by protesters from Quebec who booed and turned their back on Queen Elizabeth.
Protesters were angry that Canada still has ties to the monarchy. Queen Elizabeth II is still the country’s figurative head of state and new Canadian citizens still pledge allegiance to the Queen during their swearing-in ceremony. Others said they were angry that taxpayer money is being used to pay for the royal tour.
However, support for the separatists among Quebeckers has been on the decline in recent years as the 80-percent French-speaking province has enjoyed plenty of autonomy even without quitting Canada.
“As far as I’m concerned they’re welcome here anytime. These young people need a chance. If their ancestors messed up, they need a chance to be forgiven,” said John Harbour, 58, a French-Canadian master mariner, who was among dozens of onlookers hoping for a glimpse of the royal couple at the Quebec City waterfront.
Before heading to Montreal, Prince William and Kate finished their Ottawa visit Saturday with a tree-planting ceremony at Rideau Hall, or Government House, that has become a royal family tradition and a visit to the Canadian War Museum to meet with veterans of conflicts from World War II and war brides.
The royal couple were to fly later Sunday to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. They leave Canada for a three-day trip to California on July 8.