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Prince William and Kate follow in Queen's footsteps with surprise steam train ride on Canada tour

Evening Standard Evening Standard 29/09/2016 Robert Jobson

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William and Kate followed in the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh's footsteps when they boarded an historic steam train on the White Pass and Yukon Route.

They climbed through clouds of steam into the cab and took it in turns to loudly blow the whistle as they chatted to the driver.

After hearing how his grandparents had travelled in the last carriage on the train, which was specially fitted out with a marble table for their 1959 visit, William gallantly helped his wife climb back down onto the tracks and they sidestepped along to the front of the engine.

Their impromptu stop came at the foot of Montana Mountain, where they were meeting young mountain bikers at the bottom of a trail.

Their host in Carcross, Chief Andy Carvill, 52, explained: “The Duke asked if he could go in and they got inside the train and blew the steam whistle.

“I told them about the Queen’s coach and they were pleased to hear that.”

<div class="dnd-widget-wrapper context-sdl_editor_representation type-image atom-align-undefined" style="font-size:13px;"><div class="dnd-caption-wrapper">Daring: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge walk alongside a steam train in Carcross (PA)</div><div></div></div> © Provided by Independent Print Limited

Daring: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge walk alongside a steam train in Carcross (PA)

After saying goodbye to the bikers, the couple and the Chief crossed a scenic wooden bridge over Lake Bennett, stopping to take in the stunning backdrop of mountains and admire the crystal clear water.

Pausing for a photograph, William noticed an ashtray fixed to the bridge.

“I’ll just stand in front of this, shall I?” he joked.

Chief Carvill said: “It was amazing, it was something we will remember forever.

“They really enjoyed their visit, they really enjoyed the scenery."

“They were amazed, they loved the area," he went on. "They said they would love to come back.

"They commented on how clean the water is and how pristine everything is and said they want to come back and do some fishing here. I said they should bring the children next time.”

The couple also spoke to Gary Johnson, a member of the Dakhl’aweidi clan, whose ancestors famously started the Gold Rush.

<span style="font-size:13px;">Kate was handed bouquets of flowers during the visit (Getty Images)</span> © Provided by Independent Print Limited Kate was handed bouquets of flowers during the visit (Getty Images)

Mr Johnson, 33, who wore a porcupine quill through his nose as part of his traditional costume and had earlier led the town’s children in singing for the royal visitors, said: “I had a conversation with the Duke about keeping the old languages alive. 

"He was saying how important it is to hear the kids bringing back the language. He was amazed by how well they understood it and how well they sang it.”

Kate was handed bouquets of flowers as she made her way to the convoy and stopped to chat to local women.

Evelyn Phelps, 67, said: “She said her hands were cold and she wished she’d brought some gloves.

“I said she was very stylish and she thanked me for that.”

The couple admired the awesome views of snow-capped peaks from midway up 7,234ft Montana Mountain, which was part of land returned to the 450-strong Carcross Tagish band in 2006 under a treaty with the Yukon government.

Mrs Wally's husband Robert was among locals who came up with the idea of promoting the area as a place for mountain biking and hiking along trails used by their ancestors for thousands of years. 

&nbsp;&nbsp; © Provided by Independent Print Limited   

The Single Track to Success scheme, set up 10 years ago, has created jobs for First Nations young people and turned the area into a Mecca for cyclists and hikers.

William and Kate watched children as young as three-year-old Prince George cycling around a small circuit as part of their training with the Boreale Warriors club.

The couple told their hosts George might have enjoyed it. "They said he has been bombing around on a bike lately," Currie Dixon, sports minister for the Yukon said.

Mr Dixon and a young rider invited the royal couple to have a go on some of the mountain bikes. Declining politely, William said: "I'd love to if we had time. If we were better dressed it would be better."

They also met a group of 11 cyclists who tackled a 2km mountain bike trail and then met them down at the bottom before returning to Whitehorse.

"Don't break anything on the way down'" William told them. "It's great scenery to be riding in," he said.

"We went to Calgary and other parts of Canada in 2011 but this is on another level. Amazing scenery."

The Duke and Duchess later took a helicopter back to Whitehorse Airport before returning to George and Charlotte in Victoria.

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