Prince Edward paid tribute to Canadian soldiers during a three-day visit to Winnipeg this week.

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The prince was speaking at a reception on the Manitoba legislative grounds for the soldiers’ families and said: “I want you to know how much the Canadian servicemen and women are respected.”

Mantioba Premier Gary Doer presented Edward with a pair of framed notices naming two Northwestern Manitoba lakes after his two children, Louise, four, and James, five months.

Gary also arranged for the 44-year-old prince to be presented with two toy polar bears to give to his children by the daughter of a soldier currently serving in Afghanistan.

Five-year-old Lexie Pellerine admitted she was nervous about dropping the polar bears before giving them to Edward but added: “It was fun. He said thank you.”

Bears were chosen to recall the prince’s 1990 trip to Churchill in northern Manitoba, a popular place for spotting the animals. Edward left for Toronto yesterday (04.06.08).