And We'll Never Be Royals
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And We’ll Never Be Royals

Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh, meets local startups.

Photo courtesy of Ryerson.

“We’re going to bring you your prince soon.” While it was difficult to hear over the whirr of the Ryerson DMZ’s noisy ventilation system whether those were the exact words spoken by a press handler to the Grade 12 founders of a company called HelpWear, that was the gist.

Today, His Royal Highness, the Earl of Wessex—likely better known as Prince Edward, youngest son of our one and only Queen—was given a quick tour of Ryerson’s tech startup incubator. While there, he met with the under-35 founders of DMZ-affiliated social enterprise and healthcare companies Bionik Labs, The Rumie Initiative, and HelpWear. Over the course of 20 minutes, the prince gamely took in rapid-fire demonstrations of the technologies the respective businesses had developed, offering polite nods and “go get ’em!”-type affirmations along the way. Afterwards the prince, accompanied by Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Elizabeth Dowdeswell and a cabal of security personnel and Ryerson staff, was whisked away to a take part in a roundtable discussion not open to the public.

Prince Edward gets the startup lowdown from Andre Bertram, teenaged co-founder of HelpWear. Photo by Kelli Korducki.

While the event arguably stood as a snapshot of Commonwealth absurdity above most other things, it also marked a telling timestamp in the city’s so-called innovation landscape. The DMZ visit marked one of two local events designed to give the visiting royal a crash course in Toronto’s entrepreneurial coming-of-age. With speculators predicting that Toronto is well-positioned to become the nucleus of a quasi “Silicon Valley North,” narrowing in on the sector’s youth presence was definitely no accident.

Mostly, though, the visit went to show that even in cosmopolitan Toronto, we’re not above getting worked up over monarchs.