Active, adventurous William, Kate retreat for private time from royal tour

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For many people, a few hours off in the midst of 11 straight days of work might entail nothing more than waking up at noon and staying in pyjamas until 3 p.m. with a beer in hand.

But that's likely not how Prince William and Kate will spend their next few precious hours of seclusion before they cap their Canadian tour with a visit to Calgary, followed by a flight to Hollywood on Friday.

After spending long days touring Ottawa, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, the Northwest Territories and fire-ravaged Slave Lake, Alta., the royal couple has a clear schedule for about 24 hours. William and Kate said goodbye Wednesday afternoon to Slave Lake — and the massive media pack following them — and won't publicly emerge until 4:30 p.m. Thursday in Calgary.

All lengthy royal tours — this one comprises nine days in Canada and two in California — have built in rest time, not just for the royals, but also for their staff, said Richard Berthelsen, an expert in royal tours.

William and Kate's staff might sneak away for a little R-and-R, but if experience is any guide, the young and active couple will take the opportunity to see more Canadian sights, such as the Rocky Mountains, said Berthelsen, who was involved with royal tours in Canada from 1978 to 2002.

"I have a feeling they are going somewhere a little secluded," he said.

"Given the amount of time, which is not that great, maybe a little bit of hiking, picnic, a little bit of fresh air and they'll be back at it shortly thereafter."

It's likely they will stay away from the more popular tourist destinations of Banff and Jasper, as well as the major hotels in the area, Berthelsen said. The fewer people around, the less chance the beans will be spilled and the royal retreat spoiled.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have had smaller breaks during the tour so far, and have used them to get closer to nature. On the afternoon of Canada Day, in between attending the noon-hour and nighttime celebrations on Parliament Hill, William and Kate spent time at the prime minister's idyllic country residence at Harrington Lake, Que.

Tuesday evening the pair canoed out to a small island on Blachford Lake in the Northwest Territories and squeezed in three hours of private time before heading back to the float plane which was to take them back to Yellowknife.

"They seem to really enjoy physical exercise and pursuits," Berthelsen said. "We know they've gone on many hiking vacations and very action-oriented vacations when they have been either in Africa, where they were engaged, or recently on their honeymoon in the Seychelles."

Notwithstanding their ever-present security team, the royal couple can get by with a much smaller detail on private retreats. The massive motorcade that accompanies the duke and duchess to their public events isn't necessary when no one knows where they are, and would only serve to tip off observers that something is afoot.

It's not easy keeping such a big secret, but the trick is to not share the retreat location with anyone other than essential personnel, Berthelsen said.

"They have a very small staff at the moment," he said. "I would expect very few people in the RCMP and a very select few people on their staff would know where they're going."

Whatever the couple ends up doing on their retreat, they better recharge their batteries, Berthelsen added.

Their remaining days in Canada promise a jam-packed agenda, including a white-hatting ceremony and a trip along the Calgary Stampede parade route, followed by a whirlwind weekend in California.

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