Britain’s Prince Charles took whirlwind tours of high-tech, medical and political landmarks Wednesday before attending Harvard University’s 350th anniversary dinner in his honor.
The prince, playing a starring role in Harvard’s $1-million celebration, traveled 30 miles north to Lowell in a heavily guarded Rolls Royce for a demonstration of Wang Laboratories’ latest computer technology.
Dr. An Wang, founder of the worldwide computer giant, provided a tour of the company’s headquarters, complete with a demonstration of a computer system that passes on typed messages by means of a simulated human voice.
“How do you get it to talk with an American accent?” joked the prince as employees demonstrated the system.
Employees also demonstrated an image-copying machine by editing a picture of the prince in a 1984 steeplechase. The finished product showed the prince coming in first although he actually came in second. “I always wondered how the newspapers did that,” the prince quipped.
The focus shifted from high to low technology when Gov. Michael S. Dukakis led the prince on a tour of the Market Mills complex in downtown Lowell, a renovated textile factory. Former mill workers demonstrated the operation of a loom.
Hundreds of Wang employees and Lowell residents lined up behind ropes at the office building to catch a glimpse of the prince, who delighted the crowds by approaching them to shake hands and chat.
Secretary Becomes Muddled
“He shook my hand and asked: ‘Where do you work--at the top or the bottom? (of the high-rise building),’ ” said Wang secretary Donna Toohey, 25. “I was so flabbergasted, I couldn’t remember.”
Harvard’s four-day birthday celebration, six years in the planning, includes a keynote speech by the prince, a fireworks show at the 25,000-seat Harvard Stadium and more than 100 symposiums.
A graduate of England’s Cambridge University, where Harvard’s founder, John Harvard, was educated, Charles was to deliver the address today at Harvard Yard.
Founded in 1636, Harvard is the nation’s oldest educational institution. Other dignitaries invited to honor the university include Secretary of State George P. Shultz, Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger and Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, Sheik Ahmed Zaki Yamani.
Charles, who is president of a British group designed to boost employment, on Wednesday also attended a Boston conference of 70 business executives from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
In addition, the prince was guest of honor at a luncheon in the Massachusetts Statehouse. In a setting that included murals of Paul Revere’s ride and the Boston Tea Party protest against Britain’s King George III, Charles sampled seafood pasta salad, fruit sorbet and red and white wines from Massachusetts and Rhode Island.