More Princes

My earlier post about what seems to be a relartively close connection to the Queen of England had to do with an acquaintanceship chain therein — where Dave, my brother’s friend, was actually acquainted with Princess Di.  I can actually claim a closer connection than that, although it more tenuous, since it involved my late father having once met and briefly associated with Prince Charles.

This is the story:

My father worked for the McDonnell-Douglas aircraft company as a quality assurance representative, and one of his assignments as a QA rep was in England to a company called Dowty-Rotol in Gloucestershire. We lived in the town of Cheltenham.

While we lived in England the supersonic airliner, the Concorde, was introduced. Since my father was the highest ranking employee of McDonnell-Douglas in England, the company requested that he go to Heathrow Airport, near London, and try to get a look at it at its public introduction.

Because Dad was obviously (by his speech) an American, he was at some point mistaken by the security people at the event as a member of the press corps, and he was handed a Press Pass, which he took without letting on that he really wasn’t part of the news media.

As it turned out, Prince Charles was also at this event for a tour of the airplane. And by means of his Press Pass, Dad managed to make his way to the vicinity of the VIP delegation in which the Prince was in, and listened as Prince Charles asked questions about the aircraft. At one point Prince Charles asked an aviation question that the resident “expert” couldn’t answer. The expert indicated that he would have to refer the question to someone else who was not there at the time. But Dad, being very knowledgeable about aircraft in general, spoke up and indicated that he knew the answer to the question. Accordingly, Charles asked him to come forward to elaborate, which he did. When he finished, he went back to his place on the fringes of the VIP group.

Later, as the Prince’s party was about to board the Concorde for a demonstration flight to Paris and back, Charles requested that Dad be invited to accompany them and sit nearby in case his knowledge about aircraft might be needed again. And so my father was invited to fly on the Concorde with Prince Charles, heir to the throne of England!

I imagine that when Dad later reported to his bosses at McDonnell-Douglas in Long Beach about the results of his trip to see the Concorde, they would have been much gratified at his ingenuity in getting a ride.

All in all, Dad was very impressed with Prince Charles’ depth of interest in and ability to understand technical matters. For his part, Prince Charles thanked Dad for coming to England to write about the new airplane for the American audience!

Dad ended up taking a number of photographs of the Concorde and the Prince at this event, and tried to get the photos of the Prince autographed by sending them and his request to Buckingham palace. Unfortunately, the policy of Buckingham palace prevented this plan from coming to fruition, and they just sent the photographs back with an apology.

So, back to the original “Small World Principle”, I am connected to the Queen of England by only two jumps:

Me -> Father -> Charles -> Queen Elizabeth II

Although I am certain that after all these years Prince Charles probably couldn’t come up with a memory of my father to save his life.

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