Investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales – 1 July 1969

  July 1, 2009 at 3:11 pm by

Today is the 40th anniversary of the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales. The title Prince of Wales has been traditionally given to the heir apparent to the English (and then the British) monarch since it was first bestowed by Edward I on his infant son Edward of Caernarvon, later Edward II, in 1031 after the English conquest of Wales. Unlike the Dukedom of Cornwall, which automatically falls to the eldest son of the reigning monarch, the title Prince of Wales (and its subsidiary title Earl of Chester) has to be bestowed by the monarch.

The Queen created Prince Charles Prince of Wales on 26 July 1958, when he was a nine-year-old schoolboy. The announcement was broadcast from Cardiff during the closing ceremony of the Empire Games since the Queen was unwell and not able to be there to make the announcement in person. In her speech, she promised to present the new Prince of Wales to the people of Wales when he was grown up. That day arrived on 1 July 1969, when Charles was 20 years old and had spent a few months during his university days studying Welsh at the University of Wales at Aberystwyth.

The tradition of investing the heir as Prince of Wales at Caernarvon Castle had been revived in 1911 for the investiture of the future Edward VIII (Duke of Windsor) after having lapsed for centuries. This tradition was continued for Prince Charles. The designs for the ceremony were the responsibility of the Earl of Snowdon, husband of Princess Margaret, who had been appointed Constable of the Castle in 1963. He created a modern setting for the ceremony, with a simple Welsh slate throne sitting beneath a plastic canopy. This departure from the usual royal style was a deliberate attempt to connect royal ceremony with the 20th century public, particularly young people. Prince Charles wore his naval uniform and Garter insignia, unlike his unfortunate predecessor in 1911 who had to go through the ceremony dressed in white velvet and satin, complete with knee breeches, an outfit he termed a “preposterous rig.” A new, modern-style coronet containing Welsh gold with diamonds and emeralds was designed by Louis Osman for Prince Charles.

During the ceremony, the Queen invested Charles with the insignia of the Prince of Wales, which included the coronet and also a mantle, a ring, a sword, and a gold rod. Prince Charles swore fealty to the Queen with the words “I, Charles, Prince of Wales, do become your liege man of life and limb, and of earthly worship, and faith and truth I will bear unto you to live and die against all manner of folks.” This is the form of the vow that Charles would have sworn to his mother at her coronation, along with the other princes and peers, had he been old enough.

The President of the University of Wales at Aberystwyth gave a loyal address to Prince Charles in Welsh on behalf of the Welsh people, and the Prince responded in both English and Welsh, assuring the Welsh people of his intention to become involved in matters concerning the Principality.

After the ceremony, the Prince was presented to the Welsh people by the Queen at Queen Eleanor’s gate, which overlooks the castle’s square. Although these crowds were enthusiastic, there had been some concerns about disruption of the ceremony by Welsh separatists, and in fact the night before the ceremony two people had been killed by a bomb they were carrying, which apparently was intended to blow up the railway line to be used by the Royal Train on its way to Caernarvon.

For a thread about the investiture, click here. For a discussion about the Prince of Wales title, see this thread.

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