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Camilla Explores Her Canadian Roots At Hamilton's Dundurn Castle

The whereabouts of a coral necklace said to ward off evil spirits that adorned the neck of the Duchess of Cornwall’s great-great grandmother aren’t known, but the royal couple are sure of one thing.

It’s “not with us,” Camilla said with a smile Thursday as she and Prince Charles toured Dundurn Castle.

The castle was home to Sir Allan Napier MacNab, Canada’s pre-Confederation prime minister from 1854 to 1856 and the duchess’s great-great-great grandfather.

As the royals toured the opulent home in this southern Ontario city, they first stopped at a portrait of MacNab. Their gaze then turned to a painting of his daughter, Sophia, which hangs in the sitting room where she was married.

Curator Ken Heaman gave the couple a short briefing on the necklace’s rumoured ability to keep evil at bay, adding he wished he knew where it was now – the musing that led to Camilla’s comment, which also brought a grin to the lips of the prince.

The castle visit was part of the royal couple’s 11-day Canadian tour, their first visit as a married couple.

Outside, an excited crowd greeted the royals and Charles went out to meet the emotional onlookers, shaking hands with many of them.

Later they visited the HMCS Haida, where they both took turns firing four-inch guns on the top deck of the ship.

Camilla put her hands over her ears to brace for the sound, so Charles went first. He assured his wife that “it’s only a small one.”

While the prince’s gun wasn’t very loud, Camilla pulled the trigger on the second, which was quite a bit louder, and she laughed.

The couple began their Canadian trip Wednesday in Newfoundland and will make several stops in Ontario, British Columbia and Montreal before ending their tour Nov. 12 in Ottawa.

Camilla’s trip to Dundurn Castle allowed the duchess to reconnect with her Canadian roots, and she asked numerous questions about the house and its history.

Tom Minnes, the curatorial assistant at Dundurn, says the duchess’s great-great-great grandfather was an early nation builder, sowing the seeds of Confederation through railways.

MacNab also helped suppress the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837, for which he was knighted in 1838 by Queen Victoria.

MacNab’s family came to Canada from Scotland and he was born in Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ont., in 1798.

Minnes says he is also notably referred to as the “boy hero of the War of 1812,” having served at the age of 14.

Charles was to visit a winery college in the Niagara region and the royal couple were to return to Toronto to make a presentation later Thursday to the Royal Regiment of Canada and the Toronto Scottish Regiment.