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Prince Philip presented with Order of Canada during royal visit to Toronto

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, arrives in Toronto for a royal visit on April 26, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

Prince Philip was awarded the highest level of the Order of Canada shortly after arriving in Toronto on Friday for a brief royal visit.

At a downtown reception, Gov. Gen. David Johnston presented the Duke of Edinburgh with the insignias of Companion of the Order of Canada and Commander of the Order of Military Merit.

Secretary to the Governor General, Stephen Wallace, said during the ceremony that Philip “has long embodied dignity, loyalty and service to others” and has helped advance the personal achievement of young Canadians through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

“Through his many visits to Canada, both on his own and with Her Majesty The Queen, he has shown his lasting concern for our country and for Canadians,” Wallace said.

Before the ceremony, Philip had English breakfast tea with Johnston, his wife Sharon and retired Royal Canadian Regiment colonel Joe Aitchison.

Johnston and Philip discussed Newfoundland, chatting about the prince’s stopover in Gander in the island’s northeast.

Johnston talked about how the province went from being a “have-not” to a “have” province under the federal equalization program, “And now they’re bailing out the rest of us.”

“They’re very noticeably Maritimers,” Philip said.

Aitchison said Philip, who has been the regiment’s honorary colonel-in-chief since 1953, is seen as one of the regular officers.

“When he’s here we don’t think of him as Prince Philip,” Aitchison said.

“I’d have tea with him as with any other regimental officer.”

Philip is in Toronto for to kick off what Ottawa calls a “private working visit.”

On Saturday, he will be at the legislature to take part in a breakfast reception with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Lieutenant-Governor David Onley.

He will then present a new regimental colour to the Third Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment on the grounds of Queen’s Park.

Regimental colours are a kind of ceremonial flag considered the most prized possession of every regiment.

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Military Parade Route

On Saturday, a military parade will begin at Queen’s Park at 11:30 a.m. and end at Fort York at 1 p.m. Members of the current Canadian Forces will honour those who died at the Battle of York.

The parade will include 13 marching bands and a flourish of colourful ceremonial uniforms and regimental colours.

Road closures will be in effect.

The parade route:
•    south on University Avenue
•    west on Richmond Street
•    south on Portland Street
•    west on Front Street
•    south on Bathurst Street
•    west on Fort York Boulevard into Fort York

After the parade a commemorative ceremony will be held inside the walls of Fort York National Historic Site.

With files from CityNews.ca staff