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Investiture of the Prince of Wales

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Investiture of the Prince of Wales

Caernarfon Castle has been the site of two investitures in the 20th century

The Investiture of the Prince of Wales is the ceremony marking the formal creation of the title of Prince of Wales, similar to a coronation. An investiture is not required for the Princes of Wales, as the title is created via letters patent, and consequently the ceremony is for formal purposes only.


Edward I & II

The tradition of investing the heir of the English, and subsequently British, monarch with the title of "Prince of Wales" began in 1301, when King Edward I of England, having completed the conquest of Wales, gave the title to his heir, Prince Edward (later King Edward II of England).


Princes of Wales may be invested, but investiture is not necessary to be created Prince of Wales. Peers were also invested, but investitures for peers ceased in 1621, during a time when peerages were being created so frequently that the investiture ceremony became cumbersome. Most investitures for Princes of Wales were held in front of Parliament, but in 1911, the future King Edward VIII was invested in Caernarfon Castle in Wales. The present Prince of Wales, Charles, was also invested there in 1969.


During the reading of the letters patent creating the Prince, the Honours of the Principality of Wales are delivered to the Prince. The coronet of the heir-apparent bears four crosses pattée alternating with four fleurs-de-lis, surmounted by a single arch (the Sovereign's crowns are of the same design, but use two arches). A gold rod is also used in the insignia; gold rods were formally used in the investitures of dukes, but survive now in the investitures of Princes of Wales only. Also part of the insignia are a ring, a girdle, a sword and a robe.


Llywelyn the Last wearing his coronet

It is recorded that Llywelyn ap Gruffudd had deposited his coronet along with his other regalia with the monks at Cymer Abbey for safekeeping at the start of his final campaign in 1282. He was killed later that year. It was seized and presented to King Edward I of England as a token of the complete annihilation of the independent Welsh state.[1]

George IV, when each was Prince of Wales.

Due to age Frederick's coronet was replaced by the his father's coronation in 1902. The traditional coronet being unavailable, and with the older Coronet of Frederick, Prince of Wales being viewed unusable due to age, the only option was the creation of a new Prince of Wales crown to be used for the investiture of the current heir apparent to the throne as Prince of Wales. The Coronet of Charles, Prince of Wales, was produced by a committee under Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon, then husband of Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon.

Investiture of Prince Charles

Caernarfon Castle set up for the investiture of Prince Charles, 30 June 1969

Prince Charles was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester by Letters Patent on 26 July 1958,[2][3] though his actual investiture did not take place until 1 July 1969. The ceremony at Caernarfon was well received by the majority of Welsh people but some nationalists view it as being associated with the subjugation of Welsh people since the 13th century, when Edward I deposed the last native Prince of Wales, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. Previous investitures had taken place at various locations, including the Palace of Westminster, the seat of Parliament.[4] The Welsh borough of Swansea was granted city status to mark the occasion.[5][6] Taught by Edward Millward,[7] Prince Charles spent ten weeks leading up to his Investiture learning about Welsh culture and language and during the ceremony he gave his replies in both English and Welsh.[8]

The investiture was watched by millions on television, and attracted large and excited crowds in Caernarfon, but it also aroused considerable hostility among a minority of nationalist and republican Welsh people, some of whom were under constant police surveillance and were the subject of much intimidation from the secret services. Threats of violence ensued as well as a short bombing campaign, although these acts were generally more related to the greater nationalist campaign for Welsh independence. The nationalist campaign against the investiture culminated with an attempted bombing by two members of the Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru (Movement for the Defence of Wales). On the eve of the investiture 2 bombers were killed whilst placing a bomb outside government offices in Abergele.[9] In recent years, it has been claimed that the KGB plotted to disrupt the proceedings by bombing a bridge in Porthmadog.[10]

In recent opinion polls the majority of Welsh people have remained in favour of the monarchy with 70% plus support the usual figure;[11] a poll in North Wales in 2003 by the Daily Post found 80% of respondents wanted Prince William to become the next Prince of Wales.[12] Welsh speakers are no less likely to be monarchist, with a BBC Wales poll in 1999 finding that 73% of Welsh speakers want the position of Prince of Wales to continue.[13] A BBC poll to mark the 40th anniversary of the investiture showed that 58% of the Welsh population were in favour of a similar public ceremony for Prince William when Charles becomes king.[14]

On the evening of 28 June 2009—to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the investiture—BBC Parliament broadcast a repeat of the original BBC TV colour outside broadcast from 1 July 1969, fronted by Cliff Michelmore and Richard Baker. This was preceded by an interview with Prince Charles recorded a few days before his investiture.


  1. ^ "History of Wales". 
  2. ^ The London Gazette: no. 41460. p. 4733. 29 July 1958. Retrieved 2008-09-02.
  3. ^ Princes of Wales's site on previous Princes of Wales
  4. ^ "The Royal Family > Royal titles > Style and titles of The Prince of Wales". Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  5. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - When was Swansea given city status?". Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 44986. p. 12450. 12 December 1969. Retrieved 2008-09-02.
  7. ^ "Charles termed serious, hard-working student", Leader-Post, 24 May 1969, p.1
  8. ^ "Investiture as Prince of Wales". 
  9. ^ "‘Militants’ key role in coming of devolution left ignored deliberately’". 
  10. ^ "Prince of Wales 'bomb plot' revealed". BBC News. 13 September 1999. Retrieved 5 May 2010. 
  11. ^ "Monarchy Wales". 
  12. ^ "". 
  13. ^ "Wales backs Charles for king". BBC News. 25 June 1999. Retrieved 5 May 2010. 
  14. ^ "Poll shows support for monarchy". BBC News. 30 June 2009. Retrieved 5 May 2010. 
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