ROBERT HARDMAN: Prince Charles party was a celebration of Wales links

ROBERT HARDMAN: Prince Charles party was a celebration of Wales links

A Wales of a time as Prince marks 50 years of service: ROBERT HARDMAN says the Queen’s party for her son at Buckingham Palace was a celebration of his links with WalesBy Robert Hardman for the Daily Mail Published: 22:12, 5 March 2019 | Updated: 01:22, 6 March 2019 e-mail 7 shares 293 View comments…


A Wales of a time as Prince marks 50 years of service: ROBERT HARDMAN says the Queen’s party for her son at Buckingham Palace was a celebration of his links with Wales

He remains perhaps the most Welsh-minded Prince of Wales since the rebellious Owen Glendower claimed the title back in 1400. 

He has also held it longer than anyone in history.

So virtually every strand of Welsh life – from pop stars to sheep farmers – was represented at Buckingham Palace yesterday as the Queen held a party to mark the 50th anniversary of her eldest son’s investiture as Prince of Wales at Caernarfon Castle in 1969.

Yesterday’s party was not so much a golden jubilee for Prince Charles (pictured at the fiftieth anniversary of his investiture) as a celebration of his links with Wales before and since

Yesterday’s party was not so much a golden jubilee for Prince Charles (pictured at the fiftieth anniversary of his investiture) as a celebration of his links with Wales before and since

Both the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, together with the Princess Royal, joined Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall for the reception, followed by a concert and a homily from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Reflecting on the prince’s original oath before the Sovereign and the people, the Most Rev Justin Welby told the 300 guests: ‘Never in the history of the role can there have been such dedicated service, such honourable fulfilling of the promise at the Investiture, “I, Charles, Prince of Wales, do become your liegeman of life and limb … to live and die against all manner of folks”.’

Though he had been formally invested in July 1969, ahead of his 21st birthday, Prince Charles had been created Prince of Wales as a boy in 1958

Though he had been formally invested in July 1969, ahead of his 21st birthday, Prince Charles had been created Prince of Wales as a boy in 1958

The Archbishop also reflected on the prince’s motto, Ich Dien (I Serve). ‘This Prince of Wales has guarded the sacred duty of service and kept the fire not only alight but burning more brightly with the passing years,’ he said.

He also hinted that some of the other incumbents had fallen pretty short in that regard. ‘When you are second in the land, to serve is not automatic; human nature relishes leisure and privilege; serving requires discipline.’

The previous Prince of Wales had certainly been keener on the leisure side of things than the discipline before his disastrously short reign as Edward VIII.

His investiture had also taken place at Caernarfon Castle, in 1911, and some of the regalia from that day formed part of yesterday’s display of what might be described as the Welsh Crown Jewels.

Rev Justin Welby told the 300 guests: ‘Never in the history of the role can there have been such dedicated service, such honourable fulfilling of the promise at the Investiture'

Rev Justin Welby told the 300 guests: ‘Never in the history of the role can there have been such dedicated service, such honourable fulfilling of the promise at the Investiture’

Edward’s investiture sword was on show in the Music Room, along with his investiture rod – a gold wand topped with an amethyst. Both had been used by the current Prince of Wales in 1969.

Charles, however, had also been presented with an entirely original centrepiece for his big day. The Goldsmith’s Company had made him a coronet combining ermine and ancient emblems with the very latest in contemporary jewellery design. 

It is crowned with an orb which looks suspiciously like a gold-plated ping-pong ball and embellished with the prince’s star sign (Scorpio) laid out in 13 diamonds. All very 1969.

Among those with vivid memories of that day was Sir Nicholas Soames, the Tory MP and former equerry to the prince. ‘It was incredibly moving, especially the moment when the Queen presented her son to all four corners [of the land],’ he recalled yesterday.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attended the celebratory event which praised Prince Charles's 50 years of service

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attended the celebratory event which praised Prince Charles’s 50 years of service

By the time of his investiture, Prince Charles had been to a Welsh university to learn the Welsh language. Just two days later, he was conferring city status on Swansea. Since then, he has become patron of hundreds of Welsh organisations

By the time of his investiture, Prince Charles had been to a Welsh university to learn the Welsh language. Just two days later, he was conferring city status on Swansea. Since then, he has become patron of hundreds of Welsh organisations

Sir Nicholas’s other abiding memory was the moment when the prince went aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia after the ceremony, his new Welsh standard billowing from the mast, and crowds of children along the shore sang God Bless The Prince Of Wales.

The Prime Minister Theresa May attended the celebratory event at Buckingham Palace

The Prime Minister Theresa May attended the celebratory event at Buckingham Palace

Yesterday’s party, however, was not so much a golden jubilee for the prince as a celebration of his links with Wales before and since. Though he had been formally invested in July 1969, ahead of his 21st birthday, he had been created Prince of Wales as a boy in 1958 (the title is not automatic at birth; the Queen announced his elevation during the 1958 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff).

By the time of his investiture, he had been to a Welsh university to learn the Welsh language. Just two days later, he was conferring city status on Swansea. Since then, he has become patron of hundreds of Welsh organisations, great and small, many of which were represented yesterday.

At one end of the scale, they included the Lleyn Sheep Society, Llandovery Rugby Football Club and the Welsh Pony and Cob Society (a personal favourite of the Queen, who has won prizes for her Welsh ponies). At the other were all the main Welsh universities and regiments and the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford.

Among the first guests presented to Charles and Camilla were the Welsh band Stereophonics, who thanked the prince for helping them get off the ground more than 20 years ago. ‘We needed some speakers and we got two grants from the Prince’s Trust – one for £500 and one for £800,’ recalled lead singer Kelly Jones, explaining that the first set of speakers had been stolen. ‘Then the prince came to see us in Pontypridd!’

Prince Charles at his investiture on July 1, 1969 at Caernarfon Castle

Prince Charles at his investiture on July 1, 1969 at Caernarfon Castle

In another part of the room, Prince Harry and the pregnant Duchess of Sussex discussed healing and childcare with Simon Weston, the Falklands War veteran and charity ambassador. ‘I said to him, “You wait until you have those sleepless nights and you’ll remember why you enjoyed being single so much”,’ Mr Weston joked, adding that he had very fond childhood memories of the Prince of Wales’s investiture. ‘I’ve a lot to thank him for – the day off school, the street party, the jelly and the games we played.’ It was, he reflected, ‘a great day to be Welsh’.

The Duchess of Cambridge discussed gardens with the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust while the duke met the commanding officer of his former air base, RAF Valley in Anglesey. The royal couple began their married life there during the duke’s posting as an RAF search-and-rescue pilot.

The Queen joined her guests inside the Palace ballroom for performances by the prince’s official harpist, Anne Denholm, and musicians from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

It was very different from the high drama in 1969 when the carnival atmosphere in Caernarfon was marred by protests from a fringe Welsh nationalist movement, two of whom blew themselves up planting a bomb at a civic office in Abergele.

As the Archbishop recalled: ‘The investiture was unique. Seldom can a coming-of-age have had such a setting; seldom can the weight of expectation have been so great.’

The prince, he said, had ‘richly’ repaid the honour with his love of all things Welsh, ‘for the land, for the language, and most of all, of course, for the people’.

The Welsh people will have a chance to celebrate in due course. Yesterday’s event was arranged to fall near St David’s Day (March 1) and because the Queen wanted to host her own event at the Palace.

The prince will mark the anniversary in Wales this summer with a series of public events nearer to the investiture date. We must hope that no one pinches the Stereophonics’ speakers in the meantime.

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ROBERT HARDMAN says Prince Charles’s party was a celebration of his links with Wales

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