Drama as Prince Charles vis­its in 1978

The Chronicle - - Nostalgia -

ALOT of water has gone un­der the bridge...

It was a time be­fore Diana. Be­fore Camilla. Be­fore Wil­liam ... and Kate. Be­fore Harry ... and Meghan.

It was a time when the Queen’s el­dest son was sim­ply heir to the throne, and a 29-year-old sin­gle man to boot.

Back on this day 40 years ago, Prince Charles was on Ty­ne­side for what should have been just another in a ev­er­grow­ing round of of­fi­cial Royal en­gage­ments.

The dra­matic head­line in that night’s Chronicle told a dif­fer­ent story.

‘Bot­tle at­tack on the Prince’ were the words splashed across our front page on Thurs­day, June 1, 1978.

“A man hurled a bot­tle at Prince Charles to­day as he trav­elled in his limou­sine in New­cas­tle,” our re­port said.

“The bot­tle shat­tered the off-side win­dow of the Rolls, inches from the Prince’s head.

“The Prince was not hurt. The Rolls stopped mo­men­tar­ily and then sped on as po­lice­men pounced on the at­tacker.”

Charles was on Ty­ne­side 40 years ago to of­fi­cially open New­cas­tle’s Free­man Hos­pi­tal, and then un­veil the new As­so­ci­ated Dairies plant in Ben­ton, be­fore set­ting off for other en­gage­ments in Sun­der­land and County Durham in the af­ter­noon.

The day had started pleas­antly enough at New­cas­tle Cen­tral Sta­tion where crowds waited for over two hours for the Prince’s morn­ing ar­rival on the Royal train.

A re­laxed Charles asked a Mrs Guss, of Jes­mond: “Are you wait­ing for a train?” To which she replied: “No, I’m wait­ing to see you.”

The drama un­folded later, mo­ments af­ter the Prince told pa­tients at the Free­man Hos­pi­tal: “You’re in good hands here. The nurses are Ge­ordies.”

The bot­tle-throw­ing in­ci­dent took place on Free­man Road where hun­dreds, many wav­ing flags, were wait­ing.

Pen­sioner Mrs Drake told the

Chronicle: “A man walked past. He was rather scruffy - a bit like a tramp. I heard him say to a lady who was wav­ing at the car that he was go­ing to throw a bot­tle.

“Just sec­onds later it hap­pened and there was a loud crash. There seemed to be about 12 po­lice­men upon him straight away and they pinned him down in the mid­dle of the road.”

The bot­tle-thrower who was later charged over the in­ci­dent also felt the wrath of housewife Mrs Daw­son who helped pin down the at­tacker.

Mrs Daw­son, who had been vis­it­ing her mother at hos­pi­tal, said: “The man walked into the mid­dle of the road and threw the bot­tle at Prince Charles.

“I was re­ally an­noyed and I just made a bee­line for him when he started to run away. “I kept hold of his beard un­til the po­lice told me to leave go.” Events ran smoothly af­ter that with the Chronicle de­scrib­ing Charles as look­ing “cool and calm as he met of­fi­cials at As­so­ci­ated Dairies,” while at­tempts were made to re­pair the 1960 Rolls Royce. He even made fun of the in­ci­dent, jok­ing later at Sun­der­land’s Crowtree Leisure Cen­tre to a re­cep­tion­ist be­hind a glass par­ti­tion: “What is this for - to stop peo­ple throw­ing things at you?” Four decades on, Prince Charles is still go­ing strong, of course, as is the renowned Free­man Hos­pi­tal, while As­so­ci­ated Dairies closed in the mid-2000, and Crowtree Leisure Cen­tre was de­mol­ished in 2014.

There was a loud crash. There seemed to be about 12 po­lice­men upon him straight away Mrs Drake, New­cas­tle Chronicle, May 31, 1978

Prince Charles waves from his car on an of­fi­cial visit to the North East, May 31, 1978

Prince Charles vis­its As­so­ci­ated Dairies, Ben­ton, May 31, 1978

The bot­tle at­tacker is pinned to the ground, May 31, 1978 Po­lice pounce on an at­tacker who threw a bot­tle at Prince Charles’ car in New­cas­tle, May 31, 1978 Prince Charles’ visit to New­cas­tle’s Free­man Hos­pi­tal, May 31, 1978 BOT­TLE AT­TACK 40 YEARS AGO

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