“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.”
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.