Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, showed their support for the people of war-ravaged Ukraine on Wednesday by attending a candlelit prayer service at an Orthodox cathedral in Ottawa.
The church visit was among the couple’s stops on the second day of the royal Platinum Jubilee tour. The prince and Camilla arrived in Canada on Tuesday, spending the day in Newfoundland and Labrador before flying to the national capital in the evening.
Outside the Blessed Virgin Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral, a small group of congregants waited for the royals waving Ukrainian flags and Union Jacks.
“We appreciate the royals are coming and we are praying with them for peace in Ukraine,” said Ruslan Rovishen, a Ukrainian who lives in Ottawa. “It has been my dream since childhood to see the British Royal Family. I am excited they are here.”
Retired math teacher Graham Corke, who moved to Canada from England 50 years ago, said he has seen the royals in Canada three or four times before, but this time was there to support Ukraine.
“I think it is very important the royals are supporting the Ukrainian people,” said Corke.
Among the crowd was Iryna Bloshenko, who arrived in Canada from Dnipro in Ukraine just four weeks ago.
“I am very happy, very excited to see the royals,” she said, waving a Ukrainian flag. “We appreciate the royals’ support for Ukraine.”
Prince Charles and Camilla were greeted with applause as they arrived at the church, and each lit a candle and placed it in a stand before the prayer service began.
Father Taras Kinash said the royal visit was “symbolic of the support of Great Britain and the royal household for Ukraine and the Ukrainian diaspora.”
The royal couple is also set to meet with a displaced Ukrainian woman and her two sons.
Earlier Wednesday, Prince Charles was invested as an extraordinary commander in the Order of Military Merit. He received the award at Rideau Hall with Gov. Gen. Mary Simon in attendance.
The Order of Military Merit is marking its 50th anniversary this year. The prince has accepted nine honorary appointments and three honorary ranks in the Canadian Armed Forces.
“He has been there for our troops at those most important times,” said Ian McCowan, the secretary to the Governor General, who was acting as the master of ceremonies.
“During the Afghanistan campaign, visiting troops on the ground, writing to wounded soldiers, offering support to the families of the fallen, sharing our country’s pride and gratitude for service.”
He and Simon shook hands and touched the medal, which sat between them on a blue velvet display.
The order recognizes conspicuous merit and exceptional service by active members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
The couple then left Rideau Hall to travel to the National War Memorial, where a modest crowd awaited them.
But Cecile Dumont wasn’t taking any chances and got there at 7 a.m. Wednesday morning.
“I wanted to get the best spot. I’m a real royalist, their No. 1 fan,” she said. “It’s history in the making, the future king is here in Ottawa.”
For the 2011 royal visit from Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Dumont camped overnight on Parliament Hill with a crowd of other royal fans to get a good vantage point. She was surprised she was the only one at the war memorial at 7 a.m. Wednesday.
The onlookers cheered and clapped as the couple’s car arrived at the memorial. They observed a minute of silence, before laying a wreath and a bouquet of flowers in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Following the ceremony, Prince Charles and Camilla took several minutes to greet people in the crowd, one of whom handed Camilla a bunch of orange tulips. The royals, heavily guarded by security, shook hands and spoke to people before getting in a car.
Later Wednesday, they are scheduled to visit Ottawa’s famed ByWard Market and a local school before speaking with female Afghan refugees and meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Prince Charles and Camilla’s final event of the day is a Platinum Jubilee reception at Rideau Hall.
Métis National Council President Cassidy Caron has said she intends to use that occasion to make a request for an apology from the Queen for the legacy of residential schools.
© 2022 The Canadian Press
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