It had taken only the distance between London and Halifax for The Waleses to miss their son. On the first 'talk-about' of the tour, the Princess confided to two Halifax grandmothers: "I miss him very much. I'm very sorry we couldn't bring him this time, but we will next time." If the population had been disappointed by the couple's decision to leave William behind, the Canadian's made clear their welcome. Canada was familiar territory to the Prince, the June 1983 tour was his seventh visit in 13 years, but he had never known a greeting like this. Months of primping had gone into preparing Halifax for the first step on Canadian soil by a Princess of Wales. "We want Di", chanted the crowds. Indeed, even the turf trod by the Princess was laid to order. The town garrison was newly carpeted with £11,000 worth of grass.
Princess Diana had also groomed herself for a patriotic arrival. Her outfit was vibrant with the same colors as the national flag. An old trick, but a good one. The gesture was rapturously received by 10,000 strong crowds waving their red and white malple leaf flags at the Canadian Forces Base in Nova Scotia. For the first official dinner banquet organized by the Canadian Premier Pierre, who is still debonair at 63 years old, huge salmon steaks freshly fished from Nova Scotia water were served to the Prince and Princess of Wales. Guests rose to their feet and applauded as Princess Diana rustled past their tables in a sea of cream taffeta.
Britannia sailed out of the fog and into the 1700s the next day. A town cryer bellowed a chorus of O yeas and the people of Shelburne bustled to the wharfside in their crinolines. The town's population is 80% descended from loyalists who fled to Nova Scotia after the American war of independence and the visit of a Prince descended from their beloved George III coincided with the settlement's 200th anniversary. New Brunswick; another day, another Province. In her yellow sunflower hat, the Princess strolled and chatted through New Brunswick crowds. Far from it, Diana's greatest worry was being loved to death. Lips puckered to kiss her, hands stretched out with grips like lumberjacks. On Britannia, she would practice what Charles preached for swollen fingers, a long soak in iced water. Later that day, a jeep took the Royal couple around Rothesay Collegiate School in St. John. In the evening, a dinner was given at the convention centre and 'Mounties' saluted the Prince and Princess of Wales as they arrived.
The Princess whose tour requirements seem to include access to a swimming pool, kept cool with daily dips in the Governor General's pool. But she sweltered on walkabout. Spotting a girl who had joined the crowds in a bathing suit, Diana, in one of her ubiquitous silk suits, said: "I wish I could wear something like that." A present of a different nature came from the Royal couple to Canada. Charles and Diana handed back the £250,000 given to them as a wedding present by the Royal Canadian Legions. The money, they felt, was best directed to help Canadian youth. It was donated to The Terry Fox Youth Centre, where young people are being trained in Governmental skills. The cash wedding gift returned by the couple will buy furniture and equipment for the youth centre.
With her own birthday only days away, the Princess seemed to feel that she was growing up as fast as her son, who turned a year old when his parents were touring Canada. During a visit to Newfoundland, she said: "I have learned a lot in the last new months, particularly in the last three or four. I am finding it very difficult to cope with with the pressure of being Princess of Wales, but I am learning to cope. I am doing my job better than I previously did," she judged. Despite of the tour's success, Princess Diana's wardrobe was declared dowdy by Canadian designers. "She is a stunning lady, but her clothes tend to age her," said a local fashion guru. Alberta, the Province, the last visited on the couple's first Canadian trip is also called 'The Princess Province". Certainly, Princess-fever would reach it climax here, as 62,000 strained their vocal chords to sing "happy birthday dear Diana" on July 1.
Charles And Diana Visit Canada, By Trevor Hall. Publication Year: 1983