Prince Charles giving a speech on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on the 150th anniversary of Canada (Photo by Mark Cuthbert)

On July 1, thousands of Canadians braved heavy rains and long security lines to celebrate the nation’s 150th birthday on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Luckily the weather cleared—temporarily–in time for the noon show. Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, took umbrellas to the festivities, just in case. Amid a celebration filled with music—Bono and the Edge of U2, Gordon Lightfoot–and dance, there were a few speeches, including one by the future king of Canada.


Monsieur le gouverneur général, Monsieur le premier ministre, Mesdames et Messieurs,

 Le premier juillet 1867 était, parait-il, une journée chaude et calme, qui augurait fort bien pour une nouvelle génération de Canadiens. La toile de fond de ces célébrations était la conviction que le Canada pouvait représenter un exemple unique pour le monde entier, fondé sur un idéal de paix, d’ordre et de bon gouvernement. 

Aujourd’hui, 150 ans plus tard, nous avons à nouveau cette possibilité d’imaginer le chemin à emprunter dans les prochaines années, ainsi que les actions à prendre pour forger l’avenir. 

We should be clear and proud that we are celebrating a country that others look to for example. An example of fairness and inclusion; of always striving to be better. Around the world, Canada is recognized as a champion of human rights; as a peace-keeper; a responsible steward of the environment and natural resources; and as a powerful and consistent example of diversity and the power of inclusion with, if I may say so, Canada’s commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples demonstrating a remarkable determination to forge an ever better society. 

In April this year, I joined the Governor General and the Prime Minister at Vimy Ridge in France for the commemoration of that terrible battle of the First World War. It was a victory led by Canadians, driven by commitment to the power of freedom and democracy. Thousands gave of themselves on those fields, far from their homes. That was a gift to all our futures, and one we must never forget. 

Many of those brave soldiers were descended from the waves of people who came to Canada from across the globe, inspired by hope for a better future and the promise of new opportunities. Alongside Indigenous peoples, they developed new ways of life, established a diverse economy and built a country that spans an entire continent. Today of all days, we recognize their contributions to our own way of life.

 Ladies and Gentlemen, if I may, I would like to say a special thank you on your behalf to the Governor General for his seven years of impeccable service as Her Majesty’s representative. He has earned great respect and gratitude as a modern nation-builder, whose commitment to the youth of Canada, and to reconciliation, is exemplary. 

One hundred years ago this weekend my great-grandfather, King George V, sent a telegram to the then Governor General of Canada on the occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Confederation, in which he said: “I rejoice with the Dominion of Canada in celebrating its strong, ever-growing, prosperous life.” 

Few in 1917 could have imagined the extraordinary changes that would shape Canada over the ensuing century, and yet, my great-grandfather’s message to this remarkable country—that continues to thrive and to set its sights ever higher—is one that holds true to this day and which I am so very proud to reiterate to you all. 

Mon épouse et moi sommes tout à fait ravis d’être ici pour vivre avec vous cette journée toute spéciale. Ce pays occupe, pour nous deux, une place unique dans nos cœurs, et l’avenir du Canada nous inspire la plus grande confiance. Permettez moi de conclure en vous souhaitant tout simplement du fond du cœur, « Bonne fête Canada »! Happy Birthday Canada!