Charles marks 50 years since his investiture as Prince of Wales
The Prince of Wales – the longest-serving holder of the title in history – is celebrating the 50th anniversary of his investiture.
Heir to the throne Charles was created the Prince of Wales by the Queen when he was only nine years old on July 26 1958.
He was formally invested with the title by his mother 11 years later on July 1 1969 at Caernarfon Castle in north Wales at the age of 20.
Monday July 1 marks 50 years – a golden jubilee – since the grand spectacle was staged amid great pomp and ceremony.
Charles is in Wales for the anniversary, visiting the Prince’s Trust call centre at Nantgarw, near Cardiff, south Wales, and Ty’n-y-Coed Forest to meet horse loggers working in the Llantrisant woodland.
He is spending the week with the Duchess of Cornwall, touring the country, as they carry out more than 20 engagements over five days.
But he will not be returning to Caenarfon Castle – the scene of his historic investiture, with the prince focusing instead on meeting people across Wales and celebrating the work of charities and other organisations.
The ceremony was televised and watched by an audience of 19 million people in the UK, and millions more worldwide.
Princess Margaret’s then husband the Earl of Snowdon was responsible for the design of the setting in the castle in north Wales.
Charles’s regalia included the Investiture Coronet, Sword, Ring and Rod, and he was dressed in a long royal mantle or cloak of velvet and ermine.
A fresh-faced Charles – who is now the longest-serving Prince of Wales and heir apparent – knelt before the Queen to receive the insignia of office and pledge allegiance.
While the prince was saluted by cheering crowds showing their loyalty and affection, he also faced hostility from Welsh extremists who attempted to mar the investiture with bomb attacks.
The day had started with news that two men had died in a gelignite explosion at Abergele, 15 miles from the castle.
One of the men was tattooed on his chest and back with “Free Wales Army”.
Then, a bomb blast at railway sidings rattled windows in the centre of Caernarfon 10 minutes after the arrival of the train carrying the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, Charles and other members of the royal family.
A bomb in a suitcase, marked with the initials “FWA”, was later found on the road to Holyhead taken by the prince after the ceremony.
Then, in the early hours of July 2, a soldier died when an explosion wrecked an Army van only yards from the castle.
Fifty years on, the Second Severn Crossing was renamed the Prince of Wales Bridge last year to honour Charles’s 70th birthday, 60 years since he took on the title in 1958 and the investiture anniversary.
The structure links England to Wales by extending the M4 across the Severn estuary.
But the decision caused controversy.
Plaid Cymru’s then-leader Leanne Wood tweeted: “Is this a late April fool joke?” and an online petition opposing the change attracted thousands of signatures.
Charles’s 50th anniversary – his golden jubilee as the Prince of Wales – is very different to his silver jubilee in 1994.
The 25th anniversary of his investiture came in the midst of the War of the Waleses, and just days after the screening of the controversial television documentary in which Charles admitted he had been unfaithful to Diana, Princess of Wales after their marriage had broken down.
Now, the prince has been married to his former mistress, the Duchess of Cornwall, for 14 years.
He celebrated his 70th birthday in November, has seen both his sons the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex marry, and is the proud grandfather of four – Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis and Archie Mountbatten-Windsor – and step-grandfather to Camilla’s grandchildren.
The nation’s longest serving heir to the throne continues to run a string of charities, organisations and campaigns ranging from combating climate change to supporting disadvantaged young people.
Last year, Commonwealth leaders voted unanimously for Charles to succeed the Queen in becoming the head of the family of 53 nations when he eventually becomes king.
The Queen and senior royals including William and the Duchess of Cambridge, and Harry and the Duchess of Sussex gathered in March for a Buckingham Palace reception marking the prince’s 50th anniversary of his investiture.
Leading figures from Wales were also invited, including Falklands veteran Simon Weston, the band Stereophonics, Game Of Thrones star Owen Teale and First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford.
The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke of Charles’s enduring love of Wales.
The Most Rev Justin Welby said: “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.
“In years since then, we have seen how the honour of being granted that title has been richly repaid – in the Prince of Wales’s love for the country whose name he bears, and in the deep respect he has always shown for the land, for the language, and most of all, of course, for the people.”