06/23/2011

Can William and Kate pass the French test?

Couple
William and Kate pose in the gardens of Clarence House in London for their official photo prior to their Canadian tour that starts June 30. (Getty Images)

Prince William and Catherine are leaving nothing to chance. Or, more specifically, bonne chance.

With two full days devoted to meeting people in Quebec, the couple’s ability to bridge the French language barrier will be front and centre.

With that in mind, they have been taking some last-minute French lessons to polish what is admittedly a limited vocabulary in Canada’s second official language.

“This is a big occasion and Kate is busy preparing,” a royal source told the Daily Mirror in London. “She and William already have some knowledge of French but they are keen to brush up as much as possible before they go. She is also learning about the places they will visit and the people and organizations they will meet. There is a lot to take in.”

While Kate has no official public speaking engagements, William will certainly be expected to say something in French during his speeches, beginning with some words to the crowd on Parliament Hill for Canada Day.

In fact, as a future monarch, William will be expected to master French over time. Both his grandparents -- Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip – are fluent in language, as is his father Prince Charles. The royals also have some passable German. Camilla studied in a French finishing school, but she admits she has let that knowledge lapse.

William has picked up some Welsh from his time in Wales and has been learning Swahili to complement his interest in Africa. There isn’t much to suggest Kate is comfortable in anything but English, although she’s certainly spent time in France.

All of which makes this trip to Canada, and especially Quebec, something of a nervous test for the young royal couple.  Quebec hasn’t always been kind to royal visitors and the two days the couple spends there may be the most important of the nine-day tour that kicks off June 30.

There’s no indication William and Kate are shying away from the challenge, however. Canada has always been an important cog in the royal circles and William has lobbied to return here since his last visit in 1998.

“The Duke has had a genuine wish to go back to Canada for many years,” William’s private secretary, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, told the Telegraph, “and has been encouraging me – often pretty hard – to find an opportunity to do so”.

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Editor: It's not "Katherine" but "Catherine.

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