Lucky me – to have met Prince Charles up close and personal, however briefly.
He was in Austin to celebrate the Texas Sesquicentennial (150th Birthday), and I was there to film him cutting the world’s largest birthday cake with Sam Houston’s sword.
The cake measured 110 feet by 80 feet and filled the Austin arena, and I was one of dozens of newspaper, radio and TV reporters from around the world there to immortalize the event.
It was 1986, and I had just left ABC News, where I was the network’s first Consumer Reporter, investigating and reporting on frauds and dangerous products.
World’s Largest Birthday Cake
I was there, instead for Proctor & Gamble, for its Duncan Hines brand of mixes, which had baked and frosted the record-setting cake for this important anniversary event, and a contender for the Guinness World Book of Records.
Even so, I would be reporting live from the event to dozens of TV stations which had signed up for the production, in addition to producing a video package to send later to other stations around the world.
For weeks, I practiced saying “Texas Sesquicentennial” in the mirror, so I would not trip over it live on the air.
Tex-ess-sess-kwa-sen-ten-eee-all. Tex-ess-sess-kwa-sen-ten-eee-all. Tex-ess-sess-kwa-sen-ten-eee-all.
I practiced it over and over, so I would not trip over it live on the air.
My meeting Prince Charles was similar to the “rope line” at major events, such as his greeting well-wishers in front of Buckingham Palace the day after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth, and the “walkabouts” at Windsor Castle by the Wales’, Prince William and Catherine, and the Sussexes, Prince Harry and Meghan.
All the media staked out preferred positions in the arena – mine included a chunk of one of the Duncan Hines logos on the cake, since they were paying me.
Then, US Secret Service forced us all to leave behind all our equipment and personal possessions and exit the arena while bomb-sniffing dogs did their thing.
So I have no photo of to prove that I was there, or that I had a passing moment – literally – with Prince Charles just outside the arena, where all of us journalists and camera crews had gathered in joint worry about our equipment and personal possessions left behind inside.
But I have old 3/4 inch videotape of the video production I produced and narrated – then called a VNR, for Video News Release, and extra so-called B-roll.
Somewhere on that tape is me saying – live – 150th birthday of Texas, which I decided at the very last minute was a safer bet than saying tex-ess-sess-kwa-sen-ten-eee-all.
One of these days, I have to get that prehistoric 3/4 inch videotape transferred to something I can share on social media. Until then, you’ll have to trust me.
The event photo is from Shutterstock, a paid photo service. You can see the chef, Kurt Eichenauer, in a chef’s toque with a Duncan Hines logo, and a woman in a red Duncan Hines logo t-shirt behind and next to Prince Charles. There are other images from the event on the link.
tex-ess-sess-kwa-sen-ten-eee-all. Say that fast ten times now.