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