Will and Kate tip a hat to Canada, launch Calgary Stampede
Will and Kate kept it down home on their final day in Canada, riding in the 99th annual Calgary Stampede parade Friday morning and kicking off the 10-day event with a ceremonial sounding of the klaxon -- the horn traditionally used to start the chuck-wagon races.
Prince William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, also attended a bull-riding exhibition Thursday wearing white cowboy hats that had been presented to them by Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi on their arrival earlier in the day. The couple had accepted the hats at the time but had not tried them on, causing a micro-scandal in the micro-blogging world as they appeared to snub a local tradition. A royal spokesman said they were honored and looking forward to donning the headgear.
"Well, this is different," the prince said with a laugh as he touched the tip of his cowboy hat at a reception later. "We have been hugely struck by the diversity of this beautiful country: from Ottawa to Quebec, from Prince Edward Island to the Northwest Territories, and now the excitement of Calgary -- and what about these fantastic white hats."
Getting a public peek at the royals isn't easy -- think state visit, not red carpet -- but hundreds of thousands of people managed just that as the duke and duchess rode nearly three miles in the parade Friday.
Also, 3,100 people who scored free wristbands will be able to see their departure ceremony at Calgary Rotary Challenger Park. It won't be a simple wave goodbye: This ceremony comes with full military honors, including an inspection of the honor guard by William and a 21-gun salute.
"I have to say, we haven't seen a love-in like that since the first visit of the Beatles!" Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said after William's final remarks in the country Friday. "Indeed, everywhere you went, you left a trail of utterly charmed Canadians in your wake."
The royals are headed next for Los Angeles -- watch below as the Ministry's Matt Donnelly gives an overview of what to expect.
-- Christie D'Zurilla
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Photo: Prince William tips his hat to Calgary during his speech at the Calgary Stampede on his and Catherine's final day in Canada. Credit: Todd Korol / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images