“Royals join elite for arts extravaganza,” ran a South China Morning Post headline on November 9, 1989. “Government officials, business and community leaders and social­ites gathered for one of the biggest events in this year’s social calendar – to witness [the Prince and Princess of Wales] officially open the $600 million complex on the waterfront at Tsim Sha Tsui,” the story continued.

Charles and Diana’s expected atten­dance at the opening of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre had first been reported in the Post on April 2: “[The centre] is set to open with a spectacular $37.5 million month-long opening festival featuring a dazzling line-up of top international artists. […] The Prince and Princess of Wales, who arrive in Hongkong on November 8 for a three-day visit, are to attend [the inaugural] concert by London’s renowned Bach Choir on their first evening in the territory.”

From the archives: the aftermath of Princess Diana’s death

The building of the centre had been for­mally announced in 1974 and on March 8 of that year, the Post reported: “Tsimshatsui Cultural Complex [will] be built on the pres­ent [Kowloon-Canton] railway terminus site.”

Completion, though, was long delayed due to budget constraints and soaring costs. The chairman of the Urban Council, Hilton Cheong-Leen, told the Post on December 26, 1984: “I am confident that Hongkong people will forgive the delay and instead immediately embrace and appreciate one of the most exciting and ultra-modern auditoria in the Pacific basin.”

According to a Post report on the day following the opening ceremony, there had been disappointment among fashion experts at Diana’s choice of “a cream strapless sequinned evening dress with a short-sleeved bolero and high stand-up collar” for the occasion, but her “dazzling diamond tiara, which formerly belonged to Queen Mary, managed to steal the show”. The prince, who is known for his contro­versial opinions on modern architecture, was not given the opportunity to publicly express his views on the new building, the report noted.