Britain's Prince William and Kate visit Canada

Britain's Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William in Portsmouth, Britain, on July 24, 2016.
Britain's Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William in Portsmouth, Britain, on July 24, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

VICTORIA, Canada (AFP) - Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate were to arrive in British Columbia on Saturday (Sept 24) for an eight-day trip during which they will view spectacular nature sites and meet with refugees and indigenous Americans.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie were to receive the royals around 4pm (7am on Sunday, Singapore time) at a ceremony with military honours and a 21-gun salute.

"Canadians have tremendous affection for the royal family," said Trudeau, who was received by the British and Canadian head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, at Buckingham Palace early this year.

The Prince and his wife first visited Canada five years ago. This time they will take in the natural beauty of Canada's Pacific coast, heading as far north as the rugged Yukon territory, and will also meet with indigenous people.

The royal couple's son Prince George, who is three, and his 16-month-old sister Charlotte will stay with their nanny in Victoria, the capital of British Columbia.

Royal fever has taken hold in Victoria, where the provincial parliament has been decorated to welcome the British couple.

They will stay at a luxurious Victorian mansion that is the home of the governor-general, the Queen's representative in Canada.

Accompanied by the Trudeaus, they will begin their visit in earnest on Sunday in Vancouver by visiting a shelter for refugees and a home for children with mental disabilities.

"Sophie and I look forward to showcasing beautiful British Columbia and to promoting awareness of both youth and mental health issues alongside their Royal Highnesses," Trudeau said.

Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, will also go with Sophie Trudeau to meet with women living at a drug rehabilitation residence. Vancouver has seen a spike in overdoses involving the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl.

The rest of the visit will take William and Kate to the island of Bella-Bella for a traditional indigenous ceremony at the foot of a totem poll, then for a hike through a rainforest before heading north to the city of Whitehorse in the Yukon, a wild, mountainous territory with a sparse population.

Then they will stop off in Kelowna in the Okanagan Valley in the south of the province, near the US border.

For their fans, William and Kate have set aside time at the end of the trip for big festival at which residents of Victoria will be able to snap photos of them and their kids.

The family will leave Victoria by seaplane - the city is on an island - on Oct 1, before returning to Britain on their official plane.

Some Canadians - mainly those who dislike the royal family's expensive lifestyle - are complaining about the cost of the visit for taxpayers.

The cost of the trip to British Columbia and the Yukon will be disclosed after it is over.

But when the couple visited in 2011, two months after their wedding, the trip cost Canadians 1.2 million Canadian dollars (S$1.23 million).