Friday, July 8, 2011

It's a royal rodeo: Wild Will Hickock and Calamity Kate cause a stampede as they don matching hats and get into the cowboy spirit

By Rebecca English

Beaming: The royal couple look the part in their matching stetson hats as they get into the rodeo spirit in Calgary

It was a case of Calamity Kate and Wild Will Hickock as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge rolled into town yesterday.

The royal couple received a traditional cowboy welcome with 10 gallon hats as they touched down in Calgary before heading off to the world’s richest rodeo in traditional western dress.

William and Kate watched astounded as children as young as three – known as mutton busters - rode a bucking sheep bareback and then winced as several cowboys demonstrated their skills on a particularly angry looking bull.

All smiles: A relaxed and radiant Kate is clearly enjoying herself as she meets locals and watches the action at the Calgary rodeo

The newly-wed Duchess was clearly taken by the rodeo riders and whispered cheekily to her husband as she gestured to their chaps: ‘We should get you in a pair of these!’

Earlier the couple had arrived at Calgary airport on the last full day of their nine-day tour, following a private day in the Rockies, to be greeted by young cancer sufferer, Diamond Marshall, six.

She was so overawed by the occasion that she ran across the runway and flung her arms around the Duchess’s neck.

The youngster was diagnosed with a serious abdominal tumour in February and has recently undergone chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

She wrote to the charity Children’s Wishes from her hospital bed asking to meet ‘Princess Kate’ after watching the Royal Wedding and becoming entranced by her ‘fairytale story’.

The duchess, who was wearing a pretty primrose silk dress by Jenny Packham, looked visibly moved and embraced the poorly young girl.

Looking swell: Dressed to perfection in cowboy boots, jeans and an authentic belt buckle, Kate leads the way as William struggles to keep up

Afterwards her step mother Danielle, 32, said: 'She was so lovely and so gracious.

For a little girl who has dreamed of meeting a princess it was a dream come true.'

Diamond added: 'She was as fancy as she looks on the TV.'

Just like other royal couples before them, including the Duke and Duchess of York, they were then handed a traditional white cowboy hat each.

White Hatting is a long-standing tradition in Calgary and is considered a symbol of Western hospitality.

The hats the couple were presented with were made from rabbit fur and took a week to make by local firm Smithbilt who have been making them since 1919 and provided hats for Tony Blair, George W Bush and Kevin Costner.

Normally clients come in to have them fitted but the firm were instead given their measurements by St James's Palace.

What an entrance: The royal couple rolled into town on an authentic wild west stagecoach

Howdy partner: The Duchess gets to know a little cowgirl as the pair watch the rodeo together

A spokeswoman declined to give their measurements but said the couple were of average size.

The couple have arrived in Calgary, an oil rich town nestled in the foothills of the Rockies which remains in touch with its roots as a Wild West frontier town, in time for its world-famous 10-day Stampede.

Known as ‘the greatest outdoor show on earth’, the event dates back to 1884 and attracts cowboys from the length and breadth of Canada competing for more than $2 million in prize money.

The couple arrived to launch the festivities on an eye-catching 1912 stage coach amid a tumultuous welcome.

Kate was wearing an Alice Temperly blouse, Goldsign jeans and her own cowboy boots.
William sported blue Levis (size 32 waist/34 leg, said one eagle-eyed observer) with a pair of boots given to him by the Canadian government.

One is impressed: Prince William is just yards from the action as a rodeo rider takes a tumble from a bucking bull

The hats the couple were presented with were made from rabbit fur and took a week to make by local firm Smithbilt who have been making them since 1919

A mighty fine time: Kate and her cowboy prince

Pow wow: The Duke and Duchess meet some authentic Canadian Indians and (right) a close up of their new cowboy boots

Getting to the point: The royal couple were clearly enjoying themselves at the Calgary rodeo

Little hero: Kate laughs while William seems seriously impressed as a young cowboy demonstrates the art of 'mutton busting'

Dazzling Duchess: Kate looked stunning in a little yellow dress as the royal couple arrived at Calgary airport

The smile says it all: Cancer sufferer Diamond Marshall, 6, was so excited to meet the Princess she rushed across the runway to present her with a bouquet

Emotional: The Duchess of Cambridge embraces the poorly six-year-old

After dismounting, William was invited to launch the Stampede by throwing a stone, known as a stove, into the back a ‘chuck wagon’ – the mode of transport used by the original pioneers.

‘I'll give it a go,’ laughed the prince, as his wife shouted ‘good luck’.

William and Kate then moved over to a platform overlooking the rodeo pen to watch bull riding demonstrations.

First up were young sheep riders Georgia Knoschuk, three, and Colton Powell, five.

As she watched Colton ride out, Kate cooed to William: ‘He's so cute! He is so young, so brave.’

Next were the rodeo champions with Scott Schniffer, 31, former Canadian champion, leading the charge.

The Duchess was still looking her best despite the busy schedule. The Royal Couple will fly to California today before heading home after the weekend

Prince William gives a speech at the BMO Convention Centre in Calgary

As the 1,725 lb bull bucked back and forth, Kate bit her lip. ‘Oh my God! Oh my!’ she said.

Schniffer later said: ‘William really wanted to give it a go. He was asking so many questions. He said it's something he's wanted to try.

‘I think if Kate or security weren't around then he would have given it a go.’

As the couple got into the ‘chutes’ of the bull pen for a closer look, William attempted to jump into the ring prompting his wife to break off the conversation she was having and shout ‘William! William!’.

The obedient Duke climbed back up, but crept back into the ring moments later. Kate, by now looking rather scared, glared at him and gestured with her finger for him to come back up.

William then put his arm around Kate's waist and walked inside to the waiting reception. ‘It's so nice to be in jeans,’ he whispered.

The Duke gave a speech in which he thanked the Canadian people for the warmth of their welcome.

He said: ‘In 1939, my great grandmother, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, said of her first Tour of Canada with her husband, King George VI: `Canada made us`. Catherine and I now know very well what she meant.

‘Canada has far surpassed all that we were promised. Our promise to Canada is that we shall return.’

In return the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, described their arrival in the Commonwealth Country as the biggest ‘love-in since the Beatles ‘. He also revealed that the country had launched a new Canada Youth Ambassadors Program in honour of the couple’s first royal tour.

The Duke and Duchess were due to fly onto Los Angeles late on Friday afternoon.


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