June 15, 1983: Princess Diana and Prince Charles at a State Dinner hosted by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau at the Hotel Nova Scotian in Halifax, Nova Scotia on Day 2 of their 1983, seventeen day Tour of the Maritime Provinces in Canada. Her pale yellow silk chiffon evening gown was designed by Gina Fratini.
Diana visited Canada three times on royal tours and one gentleman saw as much of her as any other Canadian, it can be argued. Today he treasures the images.
A photojournalist in Canada for more than four decades, mostly with the Toronto Star, Boris Spremo has snapped shots of presidents, prime ministers and one very special Princess, Diana.
But Spremo’s lens adored Diana, who had a way of averting a direct gaze, instead “peaking at you” in an almost mysterious way, he explained in a recent interview.
The one shot he took of the princess that is a favourite found her on the steps of Alberta’s Legislature Building, shown above and below, when she visited Edmonton during the World University Games in 1983.
But it was in 1983 that Spremo got to meet – and flirt with – the princess during an off-the-record reception for journalists at the governor general’s residence, Rideau Hall, in Ottawa.
“She was very bubbly, friendly and good looking,” recalled Spremo, who lives in Toronto.
“She asked me, ‘What is your accent?’” – and the photographer asked her to “play a game” to guess the country of his birth. He gave her three tries and if she failed, she would have to give him a peck on the cheek. After he told her his name, Diana tried Norway, Germany – at which point Spremo offered to help.
“It’s in southern middle Europe,” he offered. “She said, ‘Italy,’ and I said, ‘No, so you owe me,’ and she laughed it off.”
So Diana called on Charles to help. “He asked me, ‘What’s your name?’ and I said ‘Boris’ and just like that he [correctly] said ‘You’re from Yugoslavia,'” said Spremo, who was born in what is now Croatia.
During that royal tour, he photographed the State Dinner held in Halifax in honour of the couple’s first official visit to Canada and hosted by then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau – his favourite subject to shoot with a camera.
Twenty-four years later, Spremo will never forget being enchanted by the world’s most photographed woman. “She still owes me that kiss.”
The arrival, though, of Charles and Diana in Halifax on June 14, 1983 for a 17-day royal tour revitalized Canadian attitudes toward the monarchy. The royal couple were already well known to Canadians from the publicity surrounding their 1981 wedding and the 1982 birth of their son, William, and the public was eager to see them in person. From her first day in Canada, Diana demonstrated her own approach to the classic royal walkabout.
Diana celebrated her 22nd birthday in Canada on that trip and Prince William’s 1st birthday was on June 21, 1983. Diana was given many gifts for him including a minature deer skin suit and a small canoe. Prince Charles is quoted as saying that his son could use the canoe in his bath!