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‘I was public enemy number one’: Dafydd Iwan remembers the anti-investiture campaign

30 Jun 2019 3 minute read
Dafydd Iwan at Caernarfon Castle. Picture by S4C

S4C will mark the 50th anniversary of the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales at Caernarfon Castle with a documentary that tells the story through the eyes of one of the leaders of the counter-demonstrations against the investiture.

In the programme Dafydd Iwan: Y Prins a Fi (translation: Dafydd Iwan: The Prince and Me) to be aired on Sunday 7 July on S4C, one of the central figures in the national movement over six decades will shed new light on one of the most controversial events in Wales during the 20th century.

As well as hearing people’s recollections of the day, the programme will feature historical archive material from the turbulent period.

1969 is remembered as a year of protest, hope and paranoia in Wales with Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Language Society gathering momentum. Into this mix came the investiture, an event that caused resentment, anger and resistance across the country.

“The response to the protests against the investiture was the greatest hatred I’ve experienced in politics,” says Dafydd Iwan, who was a young 25-year-old campaigner at the time of the investiture. “Terrible things were said, and my life was literally threatened, both in print and verbally.

“Unfortunately, Charles was portrayed as a symbol of purity and perfection, and I as the devil incarnate and public enemy number one.”

‘Great awakening’

At the time of the investiture, Dafydd Iwan was Chairman of the Welsh Language Society. Ironically, at first, he was eager to avoid giving the investiture too much attention and considered the campaigns to secure language equality in public life, including Welsh language road signs, education and broadcasting far more important.

But as one of the heroes of the language movement, Dafydd was inevitably drawn in to the investiture debate. His views about the event were expressed eloquently in satirical protest songs such as ‘Carlo’ and ‘Croeso Chwedeg-Nain’.

“What we have to remember is that it was a time of a great awakening among young people in Wales and of re-defining our relationship as Welsh people with the UK and with England,” he said.

“The investiture was a great opportunity to say. ‘Right, we’re not just going to lie down and accept the status quo. This is an opportunity to say that we don’t accept the so-called Prince of Wales forced upon us after the [Norman] conquest. We’re going to make our own mark.”

Dafydd Iwan insists that the investiture inspired a generation of Welsh people to campaign for the civil, language and political rights that Wales now enjoys.

In the documentary, Dafydd will compare the conflict and difference of opinion we are witnessing today as the result of Brexit to the discord and disunity present in Wales in 1969. He will also ask whether the role of the Monarchy in Wales continues to divide opinion here, as the recent controversy over renaming the Severn Bridge ‘The Prince of Wales Bridge’ suggests.

Dafydd Iwan says has not changed his mind on the Monarchy.

“I regret nothing about the investiture campaign, but we need to show people that you can oppose something fiercely but do so without hatred,” he said.

“The investiture is part of our history, and whether we are for or against, we must live with this part of our history, but we need to learn not to make the same mistakes again. We need to move on, that’s the important thing.”


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