Saturday, May 05, 2007

Prince Andrew Observes Cambridge's Royal Highland Fusiliers

Welcome Home Fusiliers!

Hundreds of people packed bleachers and lined sidewalks in Cambridge, Ontario this morning, hoping to catch a glimpse, as the red carpet was rolled out for Prince Andrew. Residents also gathered to show their support for the hometown regiment, the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada.

The regiment was granted the Freedom of the City by Cambridge mayor Doug Craig in a formal ceremony in front of Cambridge Place.
Prince Andrew, who serves as colonel-in-chief of the regiment, watched the ceremony from the steps of the building, flanked by more than a dozen Second World War veterans and city officials.

The prince didn't participate in the ceremony -which is considered a private matter between the municipality and the unit- but he did address the crowd, thanking them for showing support for their local soldiers.

"It is an enormous pleasure to be with you to day to witness this very old and important ceremony," he said.

"These fine men and women standing before you cannot do their duty to Canada or the crown without your support. By your presence here today, you are demonstrating your support for them."

About 150 soldiers, including several who had recently returned from Afghanistan, participated in the ceremony and the parade.

The crowd cheered as the soldiers approached the civic building. Earlier it had given a standing ovation to the group of Second World War veterans from the Fusiliers predecessor unit, the Highland Light Infantry, as they arrived by bus at Cambridge Place.

The prince observed as the town crier made the Freedom of the City proclamation and mayor Doug Craig inspected the unit.

When the ceremony finished, the prince walked out into the crowd, shaking hands with several people in the front rows and accepting bouquets of flowers from two youngsters.

The granting of Freedom of the City is a practice that dates back to the 1600s.
It involves civic officials granting a regiment the privilege of marching through town with bayonets fixed, colours flying and drums beating. It's meant to symbolically demonstrate the affection and trust a community has for its military unit.

Waterloo Region was the last stop on the Prince's week-long visit to Canada. Earlier in the week, he made stops on his low-key tour in Halifax and Toronto to visit with the other two Canadian regiments for which he serves as colonel-in-chief.

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