QUEBEC CITY, Que. - Anti-monarchists are expected to turn up the heat as Prince William and Kate continue their swing through Quebec today.
Vocal yet outnumbered protesters failed to cause any disruption to the royal couple's first events in the province yesterday, other than aggravating some of the pair's supporters, but organizers say today's events in Quebec City will take things further.
The Reseau de Resistance du Quebecois has said their demonstrations will be more extensive than what was witnessed in Montreal yesterday, though less raucous.
There were mostly admirers at the royal couple's first stop at a children's hospital in Montreal yesterday — approximately 10 times as many people cheering than protesting. But that small, loud contingent of naysayers managed to make itself heard; the unmistakable sound of jeers echoed among the cheers as the young couple quickly entered the building.
Dozens of Quebec sovereigntists were gathered outside the Sainte-Justine hospital, some carrying signs — in both French and English — calling the royal couple "parasites."
There were also chants of, "Abandon the monarchy," while some cars passed by and honked in support of the protesters.
The protesters were far louder at the next stop. Hundreds of people, most of them demonstrators, waited outside a downtown cooking school, booing and chanting slogans as the motorcade arrived.
Organizers of the Reseau de Resistance du Quebecois, the controversial Quebec pro-independence group planning today's protests, have kept specific details under wraps. However, they have already said burly supporters will act as muscle over the weekend — to keep the protests from getting out of hand.
History shows the group has a tendency to get rowdy when it comes to the Royal Family.
In 2009, the organization led an anti-monarchy demonstration during a visit to Montreal by Prince Charles and Camilla.
The protest delayed their arrival at a military ceremony by about a half-hour, and Charles and Camilla had to enter through a back door because of the raucous demonstrators.
The group also helped block the planned 2009 re-enactment of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham and has protested the performance of Anglo songs at Quebec's Fete nationale holiday.
Polls do suggest the monarchy is, by far, less popular in Quebec than elsewhere in the country.
Many here see the institution not only as a colonial relic, but also as a reminder of ancestors who had their land conquered by the British army; they resent that the sovereign still serves as Canada's head of state.
William and Kate are set to arrive in Quebec City at 9 a.m. today via the HMCS Montreal and will take part in a morning prayer on board before leaving for Maison Dauphine. There they will meet with staff and the street youth the organization helps.
From there, attention turns to events that recognize Britain-Quebec history.
First is a Freedom of the City ceremony, which is a tradition introduced by the British in 1748 to confer upon armies the privilege of entering a fortified city bearing weapons. The ceremony today will acknowledge the relationship between Quebec City and the Royal 22e Regiment.
The ceremony will take place at City Hall, and that is where the biggest protest is expected.
William and Kate are later scheduled to visit the Citadelle, a fortified residence at the foot of the Plains of Abraham, which was the scene of the 1759 pivotal battle in the Seven Years' War in which French troops were defeated by the British.
Then the royal pair are set to visit Forts-de-Levis, a fort that was built between 1865 and 1872 under the supervision of British military engineers. The fort completed a defence network protecting Quebec from future land invasion by Americans. It is also the highest point in the region.
Once they wrap their swing through Quebec, the royal pair will head to Charlottetown this evening, where they will attend an informal media reception before retiring for the night.