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Watch again: Michael Sheen questions whether the title of Prince of Wales means anything to King Charles and William

16 Sep 2023 6 minute read
Michael Sheen

A year ago today, Michael Sheen questioned what the title of Prince of Wales means to the Royal Family, after the King decided to visit Wales on Owain Glyndŵr Day.

The actor asked whether they realised the King’s visit clashed with the day, which would have been “insensitive to the point of insult”.

But if the visit was arranged without realising the history of the day in which Owain Glyndŵr was made Prince of Wales in 1404 “then one does wonder what being Prince of Wales was so long actually meant if you were not aware of what that day means,” he said.

He goes on to end by quoting Lily Smalls, Mrs. Beynon’s maid, from Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood: “Where you get that thing from, Willy? Got it from my father, silly. Give it back then, love.'”

A beautiful day in Wales

Michael Sheen’s words in full

“It’s an absolutely beautiful day here in Wales. It’s also a very important day for a number of reasons. Firstly, because today, September the 16th is the day that the new King Charles, after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth – it’s the first time he’s visiting Wales as King Charles.

“It’s been an extraordinary last period of time very emotional sort of era defining period of time. So much tradition, history, and so much sense of loss and sadness and grief.

“And I offer my sincerest sympathies to Charles and his family on the loss of their mother, grandmother – and to everybody who’s feeling such depth of emotion and a sense of loss.

“Obviously, for for people who feel so proud of their Britishness the queen is very much a symbol of that. And I think it’s really connected with people because of her extraordinary sense of duty and service to our country.

“And that she’s been there for so long, and it’s been such a sort of fixed point. It has been an extraordinary overwhelming period of time and still is, I think.

“And to see the extraordinary sense of history and tradition. And all the symbolism that goes with that has been, has been very, very powerful.

“But of course, there’s, there’s more than one story in these isles. There’s more than one traditional, more than one history.

“And today is a very important day, as well, because September the 16th is the day that many people here in Wales celebrate Owain Glyndwr who was the last native Prince of Wales – self proclaimed.

“He led a rebellion against the English crown not only to free his nation as he saw it, but to create his nation. Owain Glyndwr’s vision for what Wales could be and what he started to try and build began with his reclaiming of himself as a native Prince of Wales.

“Before him had been Llywelyn ap Gruffydd who had been acknowledged as Prince of Wales, but he’s now known as Llywelyn the Last. He didn’t know he was called out at the time, obviously, but he’s known as Llywelyn the Last because he was the last recognise Prince of Wales.

“But then after that, it wasOwain Glyndwr who proclaimed himself and then led a rebellion that went on for 15 years, but was eventually crushed. And, and that was the last time Wales had the native Prince of Wales.

“And since then, in the tradition that Edward I began by naming his own son, Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, in a, in a sort of symbolic act of rebuke and punishment, and humiliation, some would say, of Wales, and with the intent to stop a Welsh nation developing and emerging, which was the dream of Owain Glyndwr.

“And so this day, September the 16th is important to many people in Wales. Because of that, because it marks the moment where Owain Glyndwr tclaimed that title.

“So those two things are obviously connected because of course, to choose September the 16th to come to Wales, having created his son William as the new Prince of Wales or Tywysog Cymru.

“To choose this day, September the 16th to come here as his first visit, seems full of meaning. On the one hand, if it’s chosen, deliberately, then I’m sure many people will feel that that is quite an insult to those that celebrate Owain Glyndwr who tried to free this nation from the oppression of the English monarch at the time.

“And having been told that the new Prince of Wales would take on those titles with a great sense of humility, and respect, and  celebrate the history, the proud history and traditions, of Wales, and it’s quite surprising to see.

“If it was done on purpose it seems insensitive to the point of insult. And if it wasn’t done on purpose – if it was done accidentally without realising what that day was – then one does wonder what being Prince of Wales was so long actually meant if you were not aware of what that day means.

“So an important day in many ways, I think. With King Charles in Cardiff meeting the Welsh Government. I’m not entirely sure that they will be talking about that.

“I just wanted to add my voice to many others marking the irony of the celebration for Owain Glyndwr’s day being cancelled today because of the visit of an English monarch.

“It is, to put it mildly, ironic. And I hope it’s not a declaration of intent. Because that would be very concerning.

“And so happy Owain Glyndwr Day to you, King Charles, the to you Prince William, Tywysog Cymru.

“And to all those in Wales who feel a deep meaning to this day. And to borrow the words of another Welshman, Dylan Thomas from under Milk Wood: ‘Where you get that thing from, Willy? Got it from my father, silly. Give it back then, love.'”

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Steve A Duggan
Steve A Duggan
6 months ago

A year later and our protests – as usual – just get ignored and forgotten. The only way to stop this ‘prince of wales’ being imposed upon us – is through independence, it will never stop otherwise.

Steffan Gwent
Steffan Gwent
6 months ago
Reply to  Steve A Duggan

I reflected with a prominent independence leader about the brazen protests outside Cardiff Castle that greeted the new King on Owain Glyndwr day last year. We concluded that the protests had not been ignored by the British establishment. It made the Crown thing again about how Cymru has changed and so far they have not risked the PR disaster of holding an other Prince of Wales Investiture at Caernarfon Castle.

Steve A Duggan
Steve A Duggan
6 months ago
Reply to  Steffan Gwent

But they still won’t get rid of the demeaning title, they are just hoping that by keeping quiet on the subject it will not be on our minds. Of course they can not stop the media from banding it about – so trying to avoid the matter will be in vain.

6 months ago

Time it was removed. Seems it is a bauble for them to wear, a fancy to pin to their hats to have on show off days when they expect us to wave at billionaires when the nation is hurting. Not sure they get it.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
6 months ago

£148 million in Tory hush money…

Steve Woods
Steve Woods
6 months ago

A modern country periodically elects its head of state, having dispensed with the magic birth canal selection system.

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