'What about Harry?' When 2 teenage princes and their dad visited Canada

Crowds, many of them screaming young women, turned out in force when Prince Charles and his sons, William and Harry, visited Vancouver in March 1998.

Young women were most enthusiastic about William but conceded Harry was 'cute'

Princes in Canada, 1998 edition

25 years ago
Duration 2:12
Teenaged princes Harry and William and their dad Charles visit Canada in 1998.

Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, made waves at the start of 2020 when they announced their plan to retreat from their lives as senior members of the Royal Family. The retreat began in earnest last spring as they settled on Vancouver Island during a "transition" phase.

The transition appears to be complete, as the couple gave what royal-watcher Carolyn Harris called a "damaging" interview about their relationship to the Royal Family.

Harry has a long history of spending time in Canada, from his first visit as a seven-year-old in 1991 to his 2007 stint training in Alberta as a soldier with the British Army.

More recently, at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto, Harry and Meghan made their first public appearance together

'He's cute ... but young'

Prince Harry, 13, shakes hands with well-wishers on a walkabout in Vancouver. (The National/CBC Archives)

Back in 1998, a lot of admirers turned out to see Harry, along with his dad Prince Charles and older brother Prince William, when they visited Vancouver in March before heading to Whistler for some skiing.

"Hundreds of screaming, swooning teenage girls were in Vancouver today to give a pop star's welcome to a shy young prince," said Peter Mansbridge, host of CBC's The National

Sure enough, screams could be heard — and women of all ages could be seen in the crowd — in the report by Terry Milewski that followed 

Milewski described it as Prince William's "first big outing since his mother's funeral last year." 

"Who are you guys here to see?" Milewski asked a quartet of young women.

"Prince William," they answered.

"What about Harry?" he asked.

"He's cute," they said. "But he's young."

'I touched Harry!'

"I touched Harry!" said a young woman who seemed overwhelmed by the experience. (The National/CBC Archives)

Other teenage girls described William as "hot," and "the most gorgeous guy in the world."

"He's boyish cute, but we find it sexy," explained one such admirer. 

"I'll marry him," said another.

But all the attention wasn't just reserved for William.

"I touched Harry," a young woman told Milewski before turning to the camera, covering her mouth, and shrieking as her friend added, "She touched Harry!"

'This is an ordeal for him'

Prince William was said to be wary of attention from royal watchers and photographers. (The National/CBC Archives)

"Whether Prince William actually likes this treatment is very much in doubt," said Milewski as William was seen poker-faced in front of the crowd before turning on a smile.

"I think this is an ordeal for him here," said Judy Wade of Hello magazine, recalling having been told two years earlier by his mother Diana that he didn't much like being photographed.

But it remained to be seen whether photographers would respect the princes' wishes when it came to being photographed.

How they were treated by photographers had become especially sensitive in the wake of Diana's death the previous year, when she was fatally injured in a car crash in Paris. 

"If they give a proper photo call ... then there will be no reason for harassment from paparazzi," said Robert Jobson of the Daily Express. "In fact, there are no paparazzi here."

The young Prince William, his father Prince Charles and little brother Prince Harry, were presented with Canadian Olympic Team gear during their 1998 visit to Vancouver. (Chuck Stoody/Canadian Press)