William and Kate greeted by protesters in Montreal

The biggest protest against the couple is planned for Quebec City on Sunday.

Visite royale au Québec - juillet 2011 - William et Catherine

Protesters chant outside Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre in Montreal, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived on Saturday.
Chris Jackson/GETTY IMAGES

Katie Daubs and Joanna Smith Staff Reporters
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MONTREAL—A woman in a blue dress and bandana was listing the historical misdeeds of the British monarchy through a megaphone in the summer heat. She had just reached the part about the deportation of the Acadians when she was interrupted by applause.
It was not for her.
The royal couple was due to arrive in a few minutes, and the crowd, which had gathered hours earlier on the small lawn outside the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre, was getting excited.
The woman stopped her speech — an anti-monarchist declaration by a coalition of militant separatist groups, intended for the television cameras surrounding them — but then smiled as her own supporters began to drown out the cheering, with boos and banging on a soup pot.
“Abolish the monarchy!” they chanted in French, with one man shouting an expletive as he told Prince William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, that they were unwelcome in Quebec.
On Saturday, the famous newlyweds left the cosy embrace of Ottawa — where 300,000 poured onto Parliament Hill in the hope of catching a glimpse of them during Canada Day celebrations — for a more hostile scene in Montreal.
Quebecers have a history of showing disdain for royal visitors. Among the most notable incidents was a pro-independence demonstration against the Queen in 1964, when protesters saw the British monarchy as a symbol of oppression and police turned violent.
Royal watchers and curious onlookers far outnumbered, though didn’t drown out, the protesters who showed up to demonstrate against the monarchy at the couple’s two main stops in this city.
There were plenty of strongly worded signs, with many referring to the royals as parasites — a phrase that Amir Khadir, leader of the left-wing Québec Solidaire party, recently used to dismiss William and Kate as undeserving dependants on the public purse.
Other signs demanded an apology for the 1755 deportation of the Acadians and decried Quebec being left out of the 1982 Constitution. One poster even urged the duke to do some good by taking Premier Jean Charest home with him.
“We think it’s a useless institution that has no place today,” said Olivier Huard, who dressed up in a long brown robe with his neck and hands through a pillory. The satirical protest took place outside the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec, where William and Kate took a cooking lesson later Saturday evening.
“We are capable of governing ourselves without people who have the title of king by divine right,” said Huard. “The idea that God made them king is a philosophy of the Middle Ages.”
The protesters nonetheless remained peaceful — no throwing of eggs like the ones aimed at Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, on their visit to Montreal in 2009.
The only tense moment that had police rushing to control the crowd was when eager fans broke into the media area as the royal couple arrived at the hospital.
Victoria Sicurello, 11, came to the hospital with her father bearing a bouquet of roses and a homemade card she hoped to give to the couple, who eschewed the handshakes and smiles in favour of rushing inside when they arrived.
“They’re an important symbol for Canadians and for me,” said Victoria, who did not understand the point the protesters were trying to make. “Just because something happened hundreds of years ago doesn’t mean they should still hold a grudge.”
Natalie Patatoucakis, 31, marched over from her spot by the barricade to confront one of the protesters. She felt it was wrong for him to be there while the royal couple was trying to do good by visiting cancer patients at the hospital.
“I find them really disgusting, and it is going to make Quebec look like it has no class,” said Patatoucakis, who said she had read many books about Princess Diana and has been a royal fan since she was a teenager.
Inside the hospital, William and Kate met with four young patients who have cancer and blood diseases, including one boy named Jack who professed his love for bagpipes as the prince sat down to chat.
The biggest protest against the couple is planned for Quebec City on Sunday.
Earlier Saturday, the couple planted a tree at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, and met veterans and war brides at the National War Museum.
Eleanor Henderson, the wife of air force veteran Scotty Henderson, was surprised when the duchess pulled up a chair for an extended chat.
When she and her husband stood to greet Kate, she politely waved them back into their chairs, pulled up her own chair and sat down to talk. “I asked to see her ring. To see it close up,” Henderson said.
With files from Bruce Campion-Smith

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