The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge make their final Vancouver stop at Kits Coast Guard Base, accompanied by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie.
William and Kate capped off the day with a walk through the base, the enhanced station is the first of its kind in Canada, works with Indigenous groups, coastal communities and local response partners to provide improved marine safety off Canada’s west coast.
WATCH: Prince William and Sophie Trudeau greet first responders together during a trip to the Kits Coast guard Base
The Royal couple toured the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station and took the time to chat with First Responders. Part of the visit was designed to address the mental health issues faced by many staff in their position or similar first-response positions.
But for the thousands of people waiting to get a glimpse of royalty, they got their wish near the end.
Alana Brodie got a little more than a peak.
“The Duke, he was coming down the other side and he ended coming up kind of straight to where I was standing near the rail here and he shook my hand and he offered to take my flowers for Kate.”
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson also attended the meeting inside the coast guard base, which was recently re-opened by Trudeau’s government. A coast guard official leading the meeting noted last fall’s whale-watching boat capsizing in Tofino, which killed five British nationals and one Australian, as the kind of traumatic incident that first responders face.
William and Kate listened intently and nodded as emergency officials discussed their experiences and the importance of mental health supports. Pat Quealey of Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue thanked the couple for their leadership. He said the various first responder agencies in B.C. work together as a team. “With respect to mental health and the challenges we face … It’s the community that helps us heal,” he said.
A massive, cheering crowd was there to greet the royals on their final tour stop in Vancouver. A large Canadian flag was hung from a barrier and brightly-coloured signs waved in the air. The smiling couple shook hands with people and took flowers, showing no signs of fatigue after a long day. Finally, the couple boarded a hovercraft in the harbour to depart for the Canadian Coast Guard Sea Island station.
The Duke, who walked with Gregoire Trudeau, admired the equipment displayed by Vancouver Fire and Rescue and North Shore Rescue. “My son George would be obsessed with that,” he disclosed, pointing at the fire service’s new state-of-the-art truck.
The vehicle is designed as a technical rescue unit, with equipment for extrication, lifting, cutting, moving into confined spaces and technical rescue. Referring to mental health issues arising from rescues, the Duke told staff: “I’m so glad your services take it so seriously.” He nodded as Gregoire Trudeau said: “Awkward conversation is better than silence.”
The Duke was then introduced to Griffin, a German shepherd working with the Vancouver police department. “He’s a good dog,” his handler said. “I bet he is,” said the Duke, going on to ask questions about how long the dog’s training took and whether it wore a body camera.
The Duke and Duchess spent five minutes greeting the crowd before boarding a hovercraft heading for Sea Island Coast Guard Station in Richmond.
WATCH: The couple was accompanied on the hovercraft as they left Vancouver by Prime Minister Trudeau and his wife