Today, the Queen hosts a reception in London to mark the 50th anniversary of the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales. The ceremony itself took place on July 1st 1969 at Caernarfon Castle, watched by thousands at the ancient royal site and many more on TV. It marked a milestone in the life of Charles Philip Arthur George, first born son of Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, as the 20 year old approached a more active and high profile public life. As the Royal Family mark this special anniversary, here are some of the best photos from the investiture of Charles, Prince of Wales.
Son and heir
Charles had become heir to the throne on his mother’s accession as Queen on February 6th 1952, automatically taking the title of Duke of Cornwall. On July 26th 1958, Elizabeth II had issued Letters Patent creating her first born child Prince of Wales. However, the investiture didn’t take place until Charles was an adult and was set for July 1st 1969.
At the time of his investiture, Prince Charles was an undergraduate at Trinity College, Cambridge and completing the second year of his studies. He had also spent a term studying Welsh language and history in the run up to the event. His life was relatively private but a month before his investiture, the prince gave an interview to David Frost.
The investiture was held at Caernarvon Castle in north Wales, the traditional site for the ceremony. It was the birthplace of the first heir to the English throne to hold the title – Edward II was born there in 1284 and was created Prince of Wales in 1301. In 1911, Charles’ great uncle, the future Edward VIII, had been invested as Prince of Wales at the same site.
The decision to hold a formal investiture was welcomed by many in Wales and a campaign to promote the country, built around the event, took place. However, there were also protests against the investiture and the monarchy in the run up to the ceremony, particularly from Welsh nationalists.
The Prince of Wales
Charles himself took his role very seriously and said ahead of the investiture that ”for me, it’s a way of officially dedicating one’s life, or part of one’s life, to Wales”. At the ceremony, he took an oath before the Queen, stating ”I, Charles, Prince of Wales, do become your liege man of life and limb and of earthly worship, and faith and truth I bear unto you, to live and die against all manner of folks”. The Prince of Wales gave two speeches at his investiture, one in Welsh and one in English.
New regalia had to be made for the investiture of the Prince of Wales as the Duke of Windsor had taken the coronet used at his own ceremony with him when he left England following his Abdication in 1936. The new coronet was designed by Louis Osman and followed the traditional dictates with a single arch topped by a golden monde bearing the symbol of the Prince of Wales. The modern coronet is also studded with diamonds.
A proud family
The Royal Family was out in force for the investiture with the Queen Mother taking pride of place in the front row to support her beloved grandson.
The modern organiser
The Earl of Snowdon, Charles’ uncle by marriage, had a big say in the design and look of the ceremony and attempted to give it a modern look while retaining its ancient traditions.
The lasting image
Fifty years on, the image of Charles kneeling before his mother to do homage as he formally took on the title passed to heir to the throne for seven centuries is one of the most enduring of the reign of Elizabeth II. Over the past half century, the prince has been true to his word and made Wales a big part of his life and his royal duties. That ongoing role is celebrated by the Queen and the Royal Family today.