Law professor recalls visit of the U.K.'s future king to CSU
Professor David Forte has seen many interesting guests visit campus during his 46-year career at Cleveland State University. Not the least of which was the school's encounter with royalty.
“We’ve had some very prominent people come as guests,” Forte said. “We’ve had justices of the Supreme Court, we’ve had scholars from around the country, but I can say that no visit garnered as much publicity or interest as this one did.”
Forte, a faculty member of the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, was one of many in attendance when King Charles III, then Prince Charles, visited CSU in October of 1977 and received an honorary law degree.
Prince Charles, who was 28 years old at the time, toured the city, making stops at locations including Public Square, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Cleveland Clinic and a steel mill. Prince Charles eventually arrived at CSU, where he gave a speech about the opening of a new building for the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.
Forte said the visit commanded the full attention of students and filled many faculty members with pride.
“The students were very interested,” Forte said. “We felt very privileged here that he was able to come and dedicate the new law school which had just opened up. It was very special to us to have a new building to be dedicated by someone of prominence.”
Prince Charles, seated to the right of the speaker, with CSU students and faculty during his visit to Cleveland in 1977. (ClevelandMemory.org)
Despite his position of royalty, Forte remembers Prince Charles’ arrival at CSU being relaxed.
“It was very laid back,” Forte said. “People could circulate into the atrium without any real problem… Most of us were milling around, waiting for him to come through the door," Forte said. "Then he came through the door and there was a good smattering of applause. He came into our main atrium and was quickly escorted into the moot courtroom.”
Prince Charles spoke to the packed auditorium about the legal histories of both the United States and the U.K. But, the content of his speech was overshadowed when a law student named Jack Kilroy interrupted the speech in protest.
“I remember very little of what (Prince Charles) said because of the distraction of the protest,” Forte said. “I recall he was very gracious, he mentioned the legal traditions of the two countries. It was a pretty standard type of speech.”
Prince Charles, second right, talks with students at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law during his visit in 1977. (ClevelandMemory.org)
Now, 45 years after his visit to CSU, the 73-year-old Charles has begun his reign as king of the United Kingdom and 14 other Commonwealth realms, following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on Sept. 8.
Forte is glad that King Charles III is part of CSU’s history.
“We’re just delighted that he was here,” Forte said. “I just think it was a delightful thing that he came and honored us. We feel very privileged that a future king came to visit our school.”
(Archive photos for this story were provided by the Michael Schwartz Library from ClevelandMemory.org.)