ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WSPA) – All eyes will be on the royal family as the coronation of King Charles III quickly approaches.
There’s no question the king has left his mark around the globe, including during a visit to Western North Carolina.
On July 17, 1996, the then Prince of Whales visited The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, shining an international spotlight on the architecture and the history it offered.
“It was very, very small group of people that knew that he was coming,” said Christine Franck.
We spoke to architect Christine Franck a few years ago about the visit. She was the administrator of the Prince of Whales Summer Architecture Program at The Biltmore.
“The students got all dressed up and they were all very nervous,” said Franck.
It was sunny and 85 degrees. An ideal, picture-perfect day fit for royals, as some recalled it.
“We couldn’t help but sneak over to the window and look,” said Franck. “And I have these photographs of the car, you know, line of cars coming up to the front door.”
As people gathered with cameras in hand and watched from the windows, they eagerly awaited to catch a glimpse of the prince.
“And suddenly, Prince Charles gets out of the car and walks into the house,” Frank said.
During his time in Asheville, the then 47-year-old prince charmed visitors at The Biltmore Estate and met with students enrolled in his Institute of Architecture’s Summer School in the U.S. It’s what’s now more commonly known as The Prince’s Foundation.
“He would have a discussion, like he and a student would be talking about a watercolor, and he would say, ‘Oh yes,’ you know, ‘I find that a particularly challenging pigment to work,'” said Franck.
The prince shared with local reporters at the time that Europeans have a lot to learn from U.S. architecture.
“You know, here were these students that he was helping and they were going to go out and help change the world and indeed many of them have,” said Franck.
While Charles focused on education during his time in Asheville, those he met said they were pleasantly surprised at how down-to-earth he seemed.
“I think that’s the important thing to remember that they are people just like we are. They have a little extra glitter maybe around the edges,” Frank said.
The now 74-year-old King’s coronation will be held Saturday in London, marking a new era of history.
You can watch live coverage of the coronation on 7NEWS starting Saturday at 5:00 a.m.