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Michael Sheen reveals what he said to Prince Charles when he handed back OBE

07 Dec 2021 4 minute read
Prince Charles (left) and Michael Sheen (right).

Michael Sheen has revealed what he wrote to Prince Charles when he handed back his OBE.

The Welsh actor told the heir to the British throne that he meant “absolutely no disrespect” and it was the “personal choice” he felt “most comfortable with” to hand back the gong.

Sheen made the decision after he was invited to give the 2017 Raymond Williams Memorial Lecture, in honour of the late Welsh socialist.

In an interview with the Telegraph, he said he thought long and hard about “things like devolution – and why it is that the Welsh don’t have the same kinds of cultural and social platforms and institutions that the Scottish do”.

After investigating the history of English imperialism in Wales, he said that he realised he had to choose between either “saying the things I was going to say” and “holding on to the OBE”.

He came to the conclusion that “it would make me a hypocrite if I was to do both” – and ultimately chose to give back the OBE.

He said: “I wrote a letter – I think I had to write it to Charles. And I said: ‘I mean absolutely no disrespect by this. But it’s just a personal thing that I realised that I had a personal choice to make, and I’ve chosen this way. And I think that’s the choice I can feel most comfortable with.’ ”

When asked if he heard back from the Prince of Wales, he said: “No, I didn’t receive a reply.”

Sheen revealed he’d handed back the gong in an interview with Guardian columnist Owen Jones, on his YouTube channel last year.

‘I learnt a lot about Welsh history’

Sheen said: “Raymond Williams famous wrote a piece called Who Speaks For Wales in 1971 – and I took that as my starting point for the lecture as in who speaks for Wales now? And in my research, to do that lecture, I learnt a lot about Welsh history.

“By the time I finished typing that lecture. I remember sitting there and thinking ‘well I have a choice’ either don’t give this lecture and hold on to my OBE or I give this lecture and give the OBE back.

“I wanted to do the lecture so I gave my OBE back.

He added: “I just realised I’d be a hypocrite if I said the things I was going to say in the lecture about the nature of the relationship between Wales and the British state.”

He also told Jones that the title of the Prince of Wales should be ditched when Charles becomes King.

It is tradition for the title to then go to the eldest son of the reigning British monarch, which would mean that it would be passed on to William after Charles ascends to the throne.

‘Changing of the guard’

Sheen said: “We’re getting closer to a time where there is going to be a changing of the guard in the Royal Family. The Queen, who I’ve done a film about here, and I think she’s a remarkable person who has done exemplary service to the country, and sadly she won’t be with us for much longer.

“When that change and the traditional requirements would mean the Prince of Wales would become a new person, and a new Englishman, it would be I think a really meaningful and powerful gesture for that title to no longer be held in the same way as it has before. That would be an incredibly meaningful thing I think to happen.

“Make a break there. Put some things that have been wrongs of the past right. There’s an opportunity to do that at that point.

“Don’t necessarily just because of habit and without thinking just carry on that tradition that was started as a humiliation to our country. That’s what it was. It was a humiliation.

“Why not change that when we come to this moment where inevitably things will change anyway.”


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Richard
Richard
11 months ago

There are two arguments here – the worth of honours as used to reward or recognise significant service or support given

AND

Whether in the second decade of this century reference to an imperial and colonial past is appropriate

Michael seems to have given both some considerable thought 💭 ; his own journey in understanding his nations dual cultures and shared history is to be applauded as of course is his talent as an actor.

Last edited 11 months ago by Richard
Andrew Thomas
Andrew Thomas
11 months ago

Surely the greatest living Welsh person

Welsh_Siôn
Welsh_Siôn
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Thomas

An early candidate for Llywydd Cymru Rydd/President of Free Wales.

Robin Lynn
Robin Lynn
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Thomas

So that title is no longer reserved for the holder of the no. 10 jersey?

Malcolm rj
Malcolm rj
11 months ago

Wouldn’t It be great if Michelle could get someone interested in making some films like the merthyr rising or about Owen glyn

mair
mair
11 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm rj

Michael, who is Michelle???

Tabor
Tabor
11 months ago

Da iawn ,becchod na bydda D Wigley a Dafydd Ellis wedi bod more ddewr?

Richard
Richard
11 months ago
Reply to  Tabor

A difficult choice – the Lords remains a legitimate legislative body however outdated and in recent years a bulwark against occasional extreme or anti European initiatives in ‘ the other place ‘ . A hard choice for Plaid and Greens plus some v able cross benches and certainly too big. A great base for future English National Assembly ? I can hear some of your regular scribblers saying we have one of those already 😂.(Drws nesa ?) Perhaps we need to look more seriously at a modern, democratic and open system of recognition for ourselves. The St David’s awards are… Read more »

Last edited 11 months ago by Richard
Androw Bennett
Androw Bennett
11 months ago
Reply to  Richard

SNP refuse to have anything to do with the House of Lords. Plaid should have done the same. Wigley and Dafydd El sadly made the wrong choice. I cannot see anyone else emulating them.

Richard
Richard
11 months ago
Reply to  Androw Bennett

You are right that there are no SNP nominated Peers of course but incorrect there are no SNP supporters there.

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
11 months ago

I wouldn’t hold your breath Michael, Charles may agree with you and maybe consider scrapping the next ‘ Prince of Wales’ but the hard-line unionists in Westminster won’t. However, it being forced upon us may not be a bad thing – it could ignite the independence movement and see out of the UK quicker.

hdavies15
hdavies15
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

Charles won’t deviate from the hereditary habits of the Monarchy and its Establishment backers. Far from it. Despite vocal opposition there are plenty of forelock tuggers and a**elickers left in Wales who will justify yet another panto at Caernarvon in due course. My only question mark is over Charles himself. If E2R lives another 5 years, crosses the 100, she may stand down and that may bring advice from courtiers and other influencers to skip Charles, and place William on the throne. They could then promote Will’s eldest to PoW when he reaches 18 or 21 by which time Charles… Read more »

Androw Bennett
Androw Bennett
11 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Caernarfon!

hdavies15
hdavies15
11 months ago
Reply to  Androw Bennett

It turns to a “v” when they hold a Royal panto ! Leave it that way as it has nothing to do with the Welsh.

defaid
defaid
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

Wikipedia entry for Michael Sheen, the section titled Charity Work. A lot of concrete work in there, not just abstract ideas.

I’d quote it here but that section alone is longer than N.C’s article. Take a look, and pay particular attention to the last sentence in the section.

Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
11 months ago

If you had a free choice, which of these two would you choose as your head of state?

Grayham Jones
11 months ago

A Real Welsh Man no English royalstes in wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 we in wales have got to stop being little Englanders and and be proud to be welsh it’s time for a new wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Androw Bennett
Androw Bennett
11 months ago

Well done Michael Sheen.
The last Tywysog Cymru died in 1282. Each one since then has been imposed on Cymru by an alien power. Also, we MUST stop using the “W” name. It is Germanic in origin and implies “foreignness”. The Anglo-Saxons were the true foreigners.

Llwynog Abertawe
Llwynog Abertawe
11 months ago
Reply to  Androw Bennett

Cambria time.

Mike McNutt
Mike McNutt
11 months ago

I was born in Liverpool of Irish descent. I now live in South Wales my wife and youngest son are Welsh. Wales v Ireland in the 6 Nations is quite a day every year! I fully support the idea of an Independent Wales resuming EU status. Michael Sheen is a fine person who has given a great lead to the Welsh Nation.

j humphrys
j humphrys
11 months ago

This is how all in Cymru should behave at this time, with diplomacy.
We must go about obtaining our independence in Sheen Style!

Welsh_Siôn
Welsh_Siôn
11 months ago

Mr Sheen adds polish to the Welsh independence movement.

Jones
Jones
11 months ago

There will always be a prince of Wales because there’s a lot of WELSH blood in the English monarchy

Richard
Richard
11 months ago
Reply to  Jones

Is that on their ancestors 🙌 hands ?

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