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HistoryPalaces & Buildings

Caernarfon Castle – A History of Investitures

On Tuesday, 5 March, a special reception will be held at Buckingham Palace in honour of Prince Charles, who is this year celebrating 50 years as the Prince of Wales. Hosted by Her Majesty The Queen, the reception is expected to be attended by all of the senior members of the Royal Family and will be a celebration of Welsh organisations, businesses, charities and music.

The investiture of Prince Charles as the Prince of Wales took place on the 1 July 1969 at Caernarfon Castle, in a ceremony that was watched by millions around the world. Charles became the Prince of Wales at the age of just nine years in 1958 but was formally invested with the title at Caernarfon Castle. The castle has a historic association to the title of Prince of Wales which goes back several hundreds of years.

The castle is located in north-west Wales on the banks of the River Seiont and looks across to Anglesey. Now a world heritage site and a popular visitor attraction, construction on the castle began in 1283. It became the official residence of King Edward I, becoming the centre of administration and a symbol of English power, having been designed to be an impressive fortress. A Roman fort and a Norman castle had previously stood in this area, so this was considered to be an ideal location for a new castle.

The first English Prince of Wales was created at the castle in 1301 when King Edward I bestowed the title to his son Edward, who is believed to have been born at the castle in 1284 and who would later become King Edward II.

Construction of the castle continued, but its fortunes throughout history were varied – the castle was captured several times during the English Civil War and surrendered to Parliament in 1645. The castle fell into disrepair and ruin during the 19th Century, but after restoration was completed. It was the location in 1911 for the investiture of Prince Edward as the Prince of Wales (who would later become King Edward VIII). Caernarfon had been suggested by the Welsh politician David Lloyd George as the location for the ceremony. The most recent investiture to be held there was for Prince Charles, in 1969.