People & Culture

His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales visits the Royal Canadian Geographical Society

The Society’s headquarters at 50 Sussex Drive played host to HRH on the second day of his Platinum Jubilee tour of Canada

  • May 18, 2022
  • 571 words
  • 3 minutes
His Royal Highness Charles, Prince of Wales, signs the guestbook at 50 Sussex, headquarters of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, on May 18, 2022, flanked by John Geiger, left, CEO of the RCGS, and Chief Perry Bellegarde, Honorary President of the RCGS. (Photo: Fred Cattroll/Can Geo)
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The Royal Canadian Geographical Society got to welcome a royal visitor to its Ottawa headquarters.

Charles, Prince of Wales, paid a visit to 50 Sussex Drive in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 18. During the brief stop on the second day of his Platinum Jubilee tour of Canada, His Royal Highness met with representatives from the 30 Birds Foundation, including young women who have settled in Canada after fleeing the recent conflict in Afghanistan, then took part in a discussion on employment and sustainability with participants in a Prince’s Trust Canada skill development program for veterans and youth.

Under a cloudless blue sky, Chief Perry Bellegarde, Honorary President of the RCGS, and RCGS CEO John Geiger greeted the prince, and introduced a host of dignitaries, including the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, federal labour minister Seamus O’Regan, public safety minister Marco Mendicino, Senator Pamela Wallin, and Mark Fell, Chair of the Prince’s Trust Canada.

Bellegarde then opened the proceedings with a land acknowledgement and an introduction to the significance of the Society’s “beautiful” geographical setting, at the convergence of three rivers, the Ottawa, Rideau and Gatineau, and two provinces. Following the events, staff of the RCGS and Canadian Geographic gathered outside to provide a sendoff to His Royal Highness.

His Royal Highness Charles, Prince of Wales, arrives at 50 Sussex with John Geiger, left, CEO of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and Chief Perry Bellegarde, Honorary President of the Society. (Photo: Javier Frutos/Can Geo)
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The events at 50 Sussex were part of a packed Ottawa itinerary for Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Earlier in the day, the couple met with Governor General Mary Simon at Rideau Hall, where the Prince of Wales was invested as an extraordinary commander in the Order of Military Merit. They then travelled downtown to lay a wreath at the National War Memorial and place a bouquet on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The day also included a stop at a local school, a prayer service at the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral, a walkabout of the historic ByWard Market, a visit to the stables of the famed RCMP Musical Ride, and an evening reception at Rideau Hall.

The visit to Canada, which also includes stops in St. John’s and Yellowknife, is the first in five years for the royal couple and reflects the growing prominence of the heir to the throne and future queen consort even as Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her monumental 70-year reign. In a speech at the Confederation Building in St. John’s on the first day of the tour, the prince expressed the royal family’s abiding admiration for Canada.

“Time and again you have shown your country to be a safe haven to those in need, a respected leader on the world stage, a much-needed voice in advocating for a greener and more sustainable future, and, in an era where the global institutions of democracy look distressingly fragile, a model of determination and humanity,” he said.

He also acknowledged that the visit comes at a difficult but important moment in Canada’s relationship with Indigenous Peoples, and pledged to take it as an opportunity to learn more about the ongoing process of reconciliation — “Not a one-off act,” he said, “but an ongoing commitment to healing, respect and understanding.

“My wife and I look forward to listening to you and learning.”

The RCGS received its royal designation from the Queen in 1957, and has had several prominent royals as Fellows, including Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII), who was a founding Fellow in 1930, and currently the Princess Royal.

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