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#RetroAGO: Prince Charles = Prince Charming

March 27th, 2017

On October 25, 1991, Charles, Prince of Wales, visited the AGO and made an entrance that could be described as an almost-but-not-quite Cinderella story. Intrigued?

Prince Charles helping Karen Haslam retrieve her shoe.

Although Canada had hosted many royal visits in the past, this one attracted a lot of attention. Prince Charles and Princess Diana were joined by young princes William and Harry on their first foreign trip with their parents, and Diana’s star power was on full display.

On the occasion of Charles’s visit to the AGO, Diana and the boys chose to stay behind – perhaps on the Royal Britannia, which was docked in Toronto’s harbour.

Charles arrived to a waiting throng of reporters, photographers, AGO staff and visitors. At the front of the line was his official escort, Karen Haslam, who was the provincial Minister of Culture and Communications at the time. As they made their way into the Gallery, Haslam lost her footing and one of her shoes fell off, sliding across the floor. Ever the gentleman, Prince Charles left her side only to retrieve the shoe, get on one knee, and help her put it back on. According to the Toronto Star, Haslam exclaimed, “My gracious; my Prince is handing me my shoe,” to which Charles replied, “Thank goodness it fits.”

The incident made headlines all across the world. Over 25 years later, the story is now mostly forgotten—until now. You’re welcome.

Prince Charles accompanied by AGO staff, viewing the AGO’s collection of Inuit Art. Photo Courtesy of the AGO.

We want to hear your memories of the AGO. Email us a recollection or a photo, and your story may be featured in #RetroAGO!

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