Prince William and Kate expressed their gratitude Saturday for the warm welcome they received from Canadians as the British royals wrapped up an eight-day tour with their two young children.
Prince William said the trip was memorable because they brought Prince George, 3, and Princess Charlotte, who is 16 months, with them for their first official trip abroad as a family of four.
”We feel very lucky to have been able to introduce George and Charlotte to Canada,” William said in a statement.
”This country will play a big part in the lives of our children and we have created such happy memories for our family during this visit.”
George, wearing red shorts and a blue sweater with knee-high blue socks, enthusiastically waved to the crowd with both hands just before the British royals boarded a sea plane at the departure ceremony. A shy George left a young Canadian boy hanging on a high five and a hand shake. When George arrived a week ago, he also left Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hanging on a high-five and a handshake. Charlotte walked toward the sea plane holding her mother’s hand.
The departure ceremony on Saturday offered the only chance for public crowds to see George and Charlotte on the trip. The media had access to them two other times – at the airport arrival ceremony and a children’s party for military families.
Earlier Saturday, William and Kate unveiled a statue in Victoria, British Columbia, that honors those who overcome challenges at the Cridge Centre for the Family, a nonprofit that offers programs for people with brain injuries and victims of domestic violence and provides health care.
The royal couple have advocated for a number of the same social causes in the U.K. Much of their tour of British Columbia and the Yukon has focused on social and mental health issues as William began the visit by saying he and Kate wanted to meet Canadians from all walks of life.
During their tour, the royal couple visited Vancouver’s most impoverished neighborhood, participated in aboriginal ceremonies in Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, and met residents of the small community of Carcross, Yukon.
William and Kate’s last stop was on board the tall ship Pacific Grace, operated by the Sail and Life Training Society, a charity that teaches young people ages 13 to 25 to sail.
Aboard the ship were youth involved in programs run by Jack.org, a charity that supports student leadership in promoting mental health. The Pacific Grace took the royal couple on a cruise of Victoria’s inner harbor. When it returned, Kate could be seen at the helm.
There were also gifts on the final day of the visit as British Columbia Premier Christy Clark presented William and Kate with child-sized jerseys for the Vancouver Canucks National Hockey League team with Charlotte and George printed on the backs.
Canada’s federal government announced a donation of CA$100,000 (US$76,000) to be split equally between two organizations to mark the visit.
Half of the donation will go to promote education in indigenous communities and help young people, while the other half will be donated to the Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia to help new arrivals with housing, employment and language skills.