1st July marks the anniversary of the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales in Caernarfon Castle in 1969.

The event, though popular in Wales, was widely opposed by Welsh nationalists, for whom it symbolised England’s rights of conquest over Wales, and Wales’s lack of self-determination. Those who opposed the investiture peacefully included Dafydd Elis-Thomas, later leader of Plaid Cymru from 1984 to 1989, and Dafydd Iwan, chairman of Cymdeithas yr Iaith, whose song, ‘Carlo’, satirised the event.

The investiture also ended Welsh nationalism’s brief experiment with armed revolt. The Free Wales Army’s plan to storm the castle with air support from the IRA was foiled when a letter outlining the plan was cunningly intercepted during transit through the Royal Mail, and its leaders, including Julian Cayo Evans and Dennis Coslett, were imprisoned for firearms offences on the day of the investiture. A number of bombs were placed by members of Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru with the intention of disrupting the ceremony, though only one, placed in a local policeman’s garden, went off as intended. Another exploded prematurely, killing two members of MAC, the so-called Abergele Martyrs. Their leader, John Barnard Jenkins, was arrested in November 1969, largely on the testimony of a fellow operative’s girlfriend, who was driven to a secret rendezvous on their way to a date.

John Jenkins subsequently claimed that as a non-commissioned officer in the British Army, he could have approached Prince Charles with a loaded firearm, had he wished, and could have found volunteers for a suicide mission, thus apparently discrediting any notion that MAC’s intention was to shed blood: the explosions were intended as a symbol of Welsh national resistance to English rule, just as the pomp that accompanied the investure was a symbol of the power of the British state. Even so, Gwynfor Evans remarks in his book, Fighting for Wales, that all attempts at armed revolt against English rule have failed, and that those movements which survived the 1960s were those that stayed close to the principles of pacifism and civil disobedience embraced by Plaid Cymru at its foundation, while Dafydd Elis-Thomas (now Lord Elis Thomas, and no longer a member of Plaid Cymru) has argued that Welsh nationalists themselves inferred an insult when they could have welcomed an opportunity.

In 2018 the Welsh government gave somewhat secretive consent to a plan to rename the second Severn crossing as the Prince of Wales Bridge to commemorate the investiture. Despite widespread opposition to what still seemed a slur, and a petition which was signed by 30,000 people in a country of just 3 million, a subdued ceremony was attended by the prince on 2nd July 2018, with little advanced publicity and few invitations to the press. What the British state once did openly by popular consent it continues to do by stealth in the face of democratic opposition, incapable of imagining any way to treat us, it seems, but as an obedient ‘principality’ in their failing yet belligerent English empire: an empire bitterly divided, yet screaming its unity, fearful of the future, yet boastful of the past, rushing in an unreasoning fury towards the means of its dissolution.

Image of John Jenkins from Wikipedia

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I am the author of three short story collections. Reasoning and For His Warriors, originally published by Gwasg y Bwthyn, Caernarfon, with Welsh Books Council support, now join Prayer at the End in revised editions at Cockatrice Books. My anthology of fiction, Dangerous Asylums: Stories from Denbigh Mental Hospital Told by Leading Welsh Writers, including work by Gee and David Williams, Glenda Beagan, Carys Bray, Simon Thirsk and others, was published by the North Wales Mental Health Research Project, October 2016. I was a contributor with Nigel Jarrett, Rachel Trezise, Tristan Hughes and others to Brush with Fate, an anthology of Welsh fiction translated by Hala Salah Eldin. I am a member by election of the Welsh Academy.

I am the translator of Going South: The Stories of Richard Hughes Williams (Cockatrice, 2015), Hallowe’en in the Cwm: The Stories of Glasynys (Cockatrice, 2017), and A Book of Three Birds, the seventeenth-century classic by Morgan Llwyd (Cockatrice, 2017). In addition, I have translated fiction by D. Gwenallt Jones, Angharad Tomos, and Manon Steffan Ros.