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It was a beautiful day on Cottesloe Beach in Perth, Western Australia in March 1979. Prince Charles, the then 30-year-old eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II — and future King — was touring the state on behalf of his mother.
As he finished his regular 6.30 a.m. swim, Charles was intercepted by Jane Priest, a bikini-clad 26-year-old model who giggled as she placed her hands on the bashful royal's shoulders and, to his surprise, planted a kiss on his cheek.
The "Bond" moment — which was caught on camera — was not as spontaneous as it may first appear. In a 2013 documentary, royal photographer Kent Gavin admitted to asking Priest to "run up and kiss" Charles to create a photo opportunity.
But in a 2012 interview with London's Evening Standard newspaper, Priest explained how the rendezvous, intended to "make Charles more accessible," did not go exactly as planned.
"When he saw me, he dived into the water, so I thought I'd follow him in, but as I went in, he got out," Priest told the newspaper. "So I followed him out, hair ruined, make-up ruined, and I felt like such an idiot. I actually went and put my hands on his chest to give him a kiss and Charles said: 'No, I can't touch you, I can't touch you.'"
Nevertheless, the photo opportunity — which was heralded as showing the transformation of a once awkward young man into a desirable prince — certainly made waves, appearing on front pages across the globe. It remains one of the rare occasions a British prince has been photographed in swimwear, and certainly in such short shorts.
In recent years, men's micro-shorts have enjoyed something of a renaissance. No longer considered a sartorial taboo, viral street-style snaps of actors Paul Mescal and Milo Ventimiglia have demonstrated that short-shorts deserve to become a summer staple once again. In 2020, a public demand for more men in 5" inseam shorts swept TikTok with hundreds of dedicated videos — today the phrase boasts over 52 million views.
The 1979 image also bestowed overnight fame on Priest, then a young mother of one, who went on to have a successful modeling and television career. "Here was one of the most powerful men in the world and he was absolutely adorable," she recalled to the Evening Standard. "I was totally overawed for those couple of minutes."
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