OTTAWA, Ont. -- Prince William and his wife, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, joined in Canada Day celebrations Friday, often stealing the show as they were feted by Canadian leaders and cheered by thousands who lined the streets of the Canadian capital to get a glimpse of them.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper welcomed them at Parliament Hill as "the world's most famous newlyweds" and said they represent "our unbreakable link with our past and our unqualified optimism for the future."
The crowd -- many dressed in Canada's red and white colors -- exploded in prolonged cheering and chants of "Will and Kate, Will and Kate."
A few wore homemade crowns in a nod to the royals.
The royal couple, who married in April and are on their first official overseas tour, beamed.
In his speech marking Canada's 144th birthday, the prince talked of his and Catherine's family ties to Canada -- in French and English, as he had a day earlier.
He said that his wife had learned about Canada from her late grandfather, "who held this country dear to his heart, for he trained in Alberta as a young pilot during the Second World War."
On his side, he spoke of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.
The queen, he said, "has asked me to convey her warmest good wishes to the people of Canada, and her happy and abiding memories of being on Parliament Hill with the Duke of Edinburgh one year ago."
The prince referred to his grandmother as "the queen of Canada," since she remains Canada's head of state, drawing a loud cheer from the crowd. He said the queen was watching their Canada tour with interest.
The duchess wore the queen's Maple Leaf brooch and a brilliant red hat topped with a maple leaf. The queen loaned the brooch to the duchess for the tour; it was first worn in 1951 by the then-Princess Elizabeth on her first visit to Canada.
Police estimated that some 300,000 people were gathered around Parliament Hill to watch the Canada Day show.
A 21-gun salute and military plane flyovers were part of the pageantry.
Before leaving Parliament Hill, the royal pair walked toward the barricades holding back the public and shook hands and chatted with the people, some of whom had waited through the night. Several gave Catherine flowers and small, wrapped gifts.
Signs carried by the crowd included "Canada loves Will and Kate" and "Happy Birthday Lady Di. Canadians love you." Friday would have been the 50th birthday of Prince William's mother, Princess Diana, who died in a 1997 Paris car crash.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge began Friday by joining in the ceremony for people who became Canadian citizens.
Pro-royal spectators broke into spontaneous renditions of "O Canada" and "God Save the Queen" to drown out a handful of protesters.