Niagara-on-the-Lake got the royal treatment on Saturday.
Princess Sophie, the Duchess of Edinburgh, spent a day in town, touring a winery and attending a gala dinner at the Queen’s Landing Hotel.
The large formal dinner for nearly 300 people, with a guest list of who’s who from around the region, was a fundraiser for the Lincoln & Wellington Regiment, of which the princess is colonel-in-chief.
The event also marked the culmination of the Duchess of Edinburgh Cup – a military skills competition between Canadian and British soldiers that was hosted in Niagara earlier in the day.
It was the first time the competition was held in Canada and this year the Niagara regiment came out the winner.
Princess Sophie, wife of the King’s youngest brother, Edward, toured Inniskillin Winery earlier on Saturday.
Winemaker Nick Gizuk, who led the tour and a wine tasting, told The Lake Report, “I was impressed by her wine knowledge and she asked some great questions about harvest and icewine.”
“She is an avid home chef and put it together very quickly that icewine would make excellent reductions for sauces on meats and roasts,” he said.
She joked that icewine might be a little too expensive to use for sauces, he said, but noted she “has a very good palate for all the flavours. Her favourite was the Vidal Icewine 2021.”
The visit was part of a nearly weeklong royal trip to Ontario that included stops in St. Catharines and Toronto.
Ontario Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell was among the guests at Saturday’s dinner.
The evening’s guest list included numerous VIPs from around Niagara, among them Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa and members of NOTL and St. Catharines councils, area MPs and MPPs, and various dinner sponsors.
“It was a pleasure to witness the Duchess’ genuine engagement with all attendees,” the mayor told The Lake Report.
“She took the time to personally introduce herself to each table group, leaving a lasting impression,” he said.
“The regiment band provided a captivating musical backdrop, adding to the overall enjoyment of the evening.”
The honorary gala chair, NOTL’s Tom Caldwell, CEO of Caldwell Securities, a former honorary lieutenant-colonel of the regiment, and vice-president Jim Caldwell were the main sponsors of the event.
The princess was “terrific and generous as she took time to meet everyone in the room,” Jim Caldwell said, echoing the mayor’s sentiments.
And the affair was “a terrific boost for the young soldiers in attendance. She works tirelessly on behalf of the regiment,” he said.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
The money raised at the dinner will support programs run by the Lincoln & Welland Regiment, including youth development through its cadet corps, training for regiment members and support for veterans.
The regiment traces its history to the Butler’s Rangers in 1777 who helped to defend British North America during the American revolutionary war.