Imagine pulling off to a rest stop on 495 – the mills and smokestacks just off in the distance – and running into Prince Charles.

It may have actually happened if you were in the area when the newly minted King of England, then a prince, visited Lowell, Massachusetts, back in 1986.

While much of the talk last week was about Queen Elizabeth’s Bicentennial visit to Boston in 1976, Charles’ follow-up a decade later mainly flew under the radar.

Like the Queen, Charles also visited Boston, where he was honored at Harvard University.

Prince Charles was on hand to commemorate Harvard’s 350th anniversary and spoke to a capacity crowd of 18,000 inside Tercentenary Theater, according to The Harvard Crimson. Mercifully, His Majesty’s visit came a year after noted a Harvard prankster named Conan O’Brien had graduated, sparing the Prince from further infamy.

In addition to his visit to the Hub, however, Prince Charles also visited Lowell. While there, he toured Wang Laboratories for a demonstration on new technological innovations, according to an article from United Press International.

The real story is the foreshadowing of technology many of us rely on today: a computer system that passes on typed messages with a simulated human voice, and a machine where you can edit photographs.

So if you ever hear the King say, “Alexa, help me make a meme!”, he learned all about it right here in New England.

Charles also visited Lowell’s Market Mills Complex along with then-Governor Michael Dukakis. At the time, Prince Charles was president of a British group aimed at boosting employment, so it’s not surprising he had a vested interest in the vibrant and revitalized Massachusetts city.

Conspicuously absent during His Majesty’s trip to Lowell was Princess Diana. While she accompanied her husband to Boston, it’s not clear why she chose not to tag along to Lowell. I’d be curious to know about Sam Malone’s whereabouts at the time.

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