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QUEBEC CITY (Reuters) - Anti-monarchist protesters failed to disrupt the visit of Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate to Quebec, which was the most politically sensitive portion of their Canadian royal tour.
A group estimated by local reporters at about 200 people used loudspeakers on Sunday to decry the royal family and call for sovereignty for the French-speaking province, but they were kept far away from the couple in Quebec City.
The royal family's Canadian visits in recent years have often avoided stops in Quebec, where many still see as a raw wound Britain's defeat of France in 1759 giving it sovereignty over Canada.
Hundreds of demonstrators protested the Queen's visit to Quebec City in 1964, and groups favoring Quebec's separation from Canada had vowed to give the newlywed Duke and Duchess of Cambridge a rough ride.
Despite those concerns, William and Kate chose to visit both Quebec City and Montreal as part of a nine-day tour of Canada that monarchists hope will restore flagging Canadian interest in the royal family.
Protesters at events in Montreal on Saturday were also outnumbered by well-wishers.
The couple visited a youth shelter in Quebec city before attending a ceremony honoring the "Van Doos", an infantry regiment based in the provincial capital that has done extensive duty in Afghanistan.
William, in brief remarks in French, acknowledged his weakness in speaking the language used by 83 percent of Quebec residents who would become his subjects if he becomes king as the British monarch is also Canada's head of state.
"Thank you for your patience with my accent, and I hope that we will have the chance to get to know each other over the years to come," he said.
After Quebec, William and Kate will travel to Prince Edward Island, Northwest Territories and Alberta, where they are expected to receive warm greetings as they did in earlier stops in Ottawa.
The couple will visit California after leaving Canada.
Writing by Allan Dowd in Vancouver, Editing by Sandra Maler