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Kate and William take 'Brand Cambridge' to Canada

By Max Foster, CNN's Royal Correspondent
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A visit of royal proportions
  • William and Catherine set to begin royal visit to Canada, their first as a married couple
  • Royal couple enjoying popularity last seen during days of William's late mother, Diana
  • Canada, which is paying for the trip, described visit as "a distinct honor"
  • More than 1,300 accredited journalists following the couple's every move

London (CNN) -- Since their royal wedding, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have become the most sought-after couple in Britain. And now, as they set off on their first overseas tour to Canada and the United States, they are going global.

Their pulling-power in Britain was confirmed when their first official engagement at a charity dinner in London last month attracted a media circus not seen in royal circles since the days of William's mother Diana, the Princess of Wales.

With a royal visit seen as a perfect opportunity to showcase a nation to worldwide audience, it is no surprise that countries want to attract "Brand Cambridge" to their shores.

Commonwealth countries are traditionally first in line because they share the UK's monarchy; William's parents, Charles and Diana, visited Australia first, so it makes sense for the newlyweds to choose the other big Commonwealth realm -- Canada.

William has a history with Canada. He was famously mobbed by screaming girls when he visited as a teenager in 1998. It wasn't just his heart-throb looks that won him admirers. There was immense sympathy over the loss of his mother a year earlier.

Royal couple's North American entourage

The duke has had a genuine wish to go back to Canada for many years.
--Royal spokesman

"The duke has had a genuine wish to go back to Canada for many years, and has been encouraging me -- often pretty hard -- to find an opportunity to do so," said the couple's private secretary, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton.

"The royal couple are delighted that Canada will be their first tour together."

Canada also has plenty to interest the duke and duchess. William, a search and rescue helicopter pilot, is keen to fly with his renowned Canadian counterparts. Catherine's passion for arts and crafts will take them to Canada's Northwestern Territories to learn traditional practices such as turning moose hide into leather.

Widespread support for the monarchy also makes Canada a pretty safe bet for a debut royal tour. The Canadian government, which is paying for the visit, described it as "a distinct honor."

During their visit, the duke and duchess will witness a citizenship ceremony where a group of people from all over the world will officially become "Canadian," swearing allegiance to William's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.

A briefing note was issued to media about the significance of this event: "In Canada, we profess our loyalty to the sovereign, not to a document (such as a constitution) or to an inanimate object (such as a flag) or to a geographic entity. Canada is personified by the sovereign just as the sovereign is personified by Canada."

With 1,300 accredited journalists following the couple's every move, this is certainly a chance for Canada to showcase and celebrate its monarchy.

But not all of the sovereign's "subjects" are behind their government.

Anti-monarchists plan to make their feelings heard in Quebec City when the couple visits on Sunday. The Réseau de Résistance du Québécois movement, described by local media as a "radical fringe," has adopted the slogan "William go away!"