OTTAWA, Ontario — Prince William and Kate joined in Canada Day celebrations on Friday, often stealing the show as they were feted by Canadian leaders and cheered by tens of thousands who lined the streets of the Canadian capital to get a glimpse of them.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper welcomed them to an afternoon program 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 Kate's family ties to Canada — in French and English, as he had a day earlier.
He said that Kate 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 Thee 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.
Kate wore the same dress that she wore in her official engagement photos. She was resplendent in Canadian colors, a cream dress by the London designer Reiss, complete with the Queen's Maple Leaf brooch, and a brilliant red hat topped with a maple leaf. Queen Elizabeth II 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.
Prince William wore an understated blue suit and a red tie.
Police estimated that some 300,000 people were gathered around Parliament Hill to watch the Canada Day show.
Joan Milovick, 65, traveled from the Toronto area with three of her sisters came and met William during a walkabout. Her sister gave William flowers to give to Kate.
"He seemed so genuine, so much like his mom," Milovick said before shedding tears. "Very glamorous, very much like Diana was."
Friday also would have been the 50th birthday of William's mother, Princess Diana, who died in a 1997 Paris car crash. In London, her admirers gathered to leave gifts outside Kensington Palace, which was her official residence.
A 21-gun salute to Canada's and military plane flyovers were part of the pageantry in Ottawa.
When two F-18's did a flyby, Kate mouthed "that scared me" and put her hand to her heart.
At breaks in the official program, the crowd erupted into the cheer "Will and Kate, Will and Kate." There also were cheers of "Prince William, Prince William," suggesting that the young prince was charming his Canadian audience as much as his new bride was.
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 Kate flowers and small, wrapped gifts.
Greg Kolz, 33, shook both Kate and William's hand and got so nervous that he wished William "Merry Christmas."
"His response was that was brilliant and that he had done that once or twice himself," he said. "We did a bit of a high five and then I collected myself enough to wish him a happy Canada Day."
Rachel Pray, 20, and Anna Martin, 20, from Dresden, Ontario both called it the best day of her lives.
"They talked to us and they asked us if we had sunscreen. They were just really genuine, which was really nice. It was well worth the wait," Pray said.
"I would consider them the ultimate celebrity," Martin said. "I'm still shaking a bit right now. We just decided on a whim last week to come and it's just turned into the most amazing day. I'll never forget it."Video: Will and Kate wow crowds in Canada (on this page)
Daphne Burrell, 65, said William said he hoped she had sun screen on.
"I ended up passing out because of the heat, but it was worth it," she said.
Signs carried by the crowd included "Canada loves Will and Kate" and "Happy Birthday Lady Di. Canadians love you."
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as they are officially known, began the day Friday by joining in the ceremony for people who became Canadian citizens.
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As they emerged from their motorcade at the Canadian Museum of Civilization to a raucous welcome. The pro-royal spectators broke into spontaneous renditions of "O Canada" and "God Save the Queen" to drown out a handful of protesters who oppose requiring Canadian citizens to pledge allegiance to the queen.
At the museum, the royal pair watched as 25 people from 14 countries became Canadian citizens. They handed out red and white maple leaf flags to the newly minted Canadians, then participated in a reception for the new citizens and their families.
As he accepted the flags, Siddhartha Kumar, 33, said Kate asked where he was from. When he replied India, he said, she said that she was going there too.
"It is probably one of the most special days of my life so far," said Kumar, who was wearing the tunic he wore the day of his wedding.
During the visit, William, a helicopter pilot, will take part in a water landing demonstration, and the couple is scheduled to put on aprons and take part in a cooking workshop in Quebec City. They also will open the world-renowned Calgary Stampede.
Some anti-royal protests were expected in the French-speaking province of Quebec, with small groups planning protests in Quebec City and Montreal.
The prince and Kate jet to Los Angeles on July 8 and will host a gala dinner there the next night to introduce up-and-coming British film talent to Hollywood executives.
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