Royalty in Saint-Louis: the day King Charles III visited the Ark


Vintage KSDK dug into the archives for a look back at King Charles III’s visit to St. Louis 45 years ago, which drew large crowds to multiple locations.

ST. LOUIS — With the death of Queen Elizabeth II, her first son, Charles, ascended the throne. But 45 years before he became king, Britain’s new monarchwho will be known as King Charles III, paid a visit to Saint-Louis.

On October 21, 1977, he spent six hours in the St. Louis area, including a trip to the top of Gateway Arch.

To imagine the impact of this trip, step back in time to his July 1981 wedding to Lady Diana Spencer. Before meeting and marrying Diana, Charles was one of the most eligible bachelors in the world.

King Charles III on tour of the United States

As you can imagine, the then prince generated a lot of excitement during his visit to St. Louis. It all started with a big welcome at St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

St. Louis Mayor James Conway and County Supervisor Gene McNary were among the dignitaries. Students at Kratz Elementary School in northern St. Louis County greeted Charles with a giant banner, and he even stopped for a few minutes to chat with the kids.

Afterwards, he left for the Gateway Arch where he shook hands and spoke to well-wishers.

These conversations were difficult to hear because Charles instructed his security to keep all microphones at least 10 feet away.

A small group of demonstrators were also present to protest against the British presence in Northern Ireland.

Our reporter spoke to one of the protesters.

“Do you think he read the sign?” »

“Oh, read the sign carefully. He read it, he looked at my face and he smiled,” the protester replied.

Once inside the arch, Charles climbed to the top where his tour guides encouraged him to lean over and look out the window.

The next stop was the old courthouse.

Charles walked there from the grounds of the Ark, stopping along the way to watch a dance performance by the Black American Folklore Society.

Most eligible bachelor’s degree

Many young women were also in the crowd that day, hoping to meet Charles. Some have been luckier than others. Specifically, a young woman who has come a long way for a chance encounter.

“My dad introduced himself and he immediately asked my dad who the young woman standing next to him was.

“My dad explained that I had come over from Purdue University to meet him and the prince seemed so flattered that he looked at me and said, ‘Oh, well, how’s your schooling going?’ and ‘I’m so flattered that you came all the way and left your books just to meet me.’

“I was so flabbergasted that I didn’t know what to say,” she told our reporter.

Around 200 people greeted Charles when he entered the old courthouse, where he was showered with gifts including a replica of the Gateway Arch.

After a private reception, Charles stood in front of the microphone.

“When I was in school, I once played in the round, ‘Macbeth.’ It’s rare that I’ve had a reception in the round,” Charles remarks, referring to the floor under the rotunda. “I was so happy to meet all of you, well some of you, and hug you. the hand. I shook quite a bit.

Charles said the visit reminded him of the special relationship Britain has with the United States.

“I’m very grateful to bring all kinds of happy memories back to the Queen and to tell her that all is well in this part of the globe.”

Charles concluded his visit with a tour of the McDonnell Douglas factory. James McDonnell, the company’s founder, showed him around in a golf cart.

Charles is no stranger to aviation. He was trained as a jet pilot in the Royal Air Force and flew helicopters in the Royal Navy.

St. Louis was one of many cities visited by Charles during his 13-day tour of the United States. It also made stops in Chicago, Cleveland, Atlanta, Charleston, Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

One observation that many reporters had at the time was the lack of heavy security surrounding it.

More royalties in STL

Charles is not the only member of the royal family to visit St. Louis.

In January 2004, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, stopped in St. Louis while on a 10-city tour.

Prince Andrew’s ex-wife spoke to hundreds of cheering people packed into a ballroom at the Frontenac Hilton hotel. It was billed as a Weight Watchers Super Reunion, and the tour kicked off his debut as a Weight Watchers spokesperson.


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