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1983: Charles and Diana charm Newfoundlanders

The Story


Hold on to your hat! Thanks to a brisk Newfoundland breeze, the Princess of Wales is wise to take that advice while visiting a Canadian navy ship docked in St. John's. Diana and her husband, Prince Charles, are visiting Newfoundland as it celebrates its 400th anniversary of becoming a British colony. In this clip from CBC television, the royal couple confronts another caprice of Newfoundland's notorious weather when a heavy fog rolls in over Cape Spear.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: June 24, 1983
Guest: John Crosbie
Anchor: George McLean
Reporter: Barbara Yaffe
Duration: 2:11

Did You know?


• Newfoundland was the first British colony in the New World. It was claimed for Britain by explorer Sir Humphrey Gilbert, who was authorized by Queen Elizabeth I to colonize coastal North America.

• Gilbert entered St. John's harbour on Aug. 5, 1583 and staked Britain's claim to the territory, although the harbour was full of boats from Portugal and Spain. Gilbert departed for home two weeks later and died at sea when his ship, the Squirrel, capsized in a storm.

• The first European settlement in Newfoundland was established by Norse explorers sailing from Greenland during the 10th century. Their settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows is now a national historic site.

• John Cabot, an Italian-born explorer sailing under the English flag with the blessing of King Henry VII, is believed to have landed at Newfoundland in 1497.

• Newfoundland remained a British possession until 1949, when it joined Confederation and became Canada's 10th province.

• In 1983, the province (which was formally renamed Newfoundland and Labrador in 2001) celebrated Gilbert's colonial claim. An official ceremony during the royal visit kicked off a summer full of events celebrating the occasion.

• At Cape Spear, the easternmost point of North America, Prince Charles unveiled a plaque commemorating the area as a national historic site. According to the Globe and Mail, the prince told his audience he enjoyed making the "brief trip" to the site, despite the foggy weather that made it "rather invisible today."

• The same day, Prince Charles received the Dictionary of Newfoundland English as a gift.

• This is was the first and only visit to Newfoundland for both Charles and Diana. In his after-dinner remarks on the couple's first full day in the province, Charles said it was "nice to come to a place where neither of us has ever been before."

• During their 18-day visit to Canada in the summer of 1983, the Prince and Princess of Wales also visited Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ottawa and Edmonton.

• In Edmonton, the royal couple was present for the official opening of the 1983 World University Games. Diana celebrated her 22nd birthday in Edmonton on July 1. In the middle of the trip, on June 21, the couple's son William had his first birthday in their absence.

• In 1992 Charles and Diana announced they were separating, and in 1996 their divorce became final. Diana died in a car crash in Paris in 1997.

Also on June 24:
1497: Italian explorer John Cabot sights the North American coast near Newfoundland. With a small ship called Mathew and a crew of 18, Cabot claimed the land for the King of England.
1918: Royal Flying Corps Captain Brian Peck inaugurates airmail service in Canada with a biplane flight from Montreal to Toronto. Ten years later, regular airmail service begins.
1957: Front Page Challenge debuts on CBC Television. Intended as a 13-week summer replacement program, it became North America's longest-running game-interview TV program. The show was cancelled in 1995.


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