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In Pictures: The Prince of Wales’s 1969 investiture

UK News | Published:

The ceremony was organised by the then Earl of Snowdon, who was married to the Queen’s sister Princess Margaret.

The Investiture of the Prince of Wales

Fifty years ago, the Prince of Wales was invested with his title on July 1 in 1969.

The ceremony, watched by a television audience of 19 million people in the UK, and millions more worldwide, was two years in the planning.

Caernarfon Castle
The interior of Caernarfon Castle, as a dais and stands were being set up for the Prince of Wales’s investiture (PA)

Ministry of Works officials were tasked with delivering the pageant, which symbolised the heir to the throne’s coming of age.

Royalty – Prince of Wales’ Investiture – Caernarfon Castle, North Wales
Ministry of Works officials in the Lower Ward of Caernarfon Castle, planning the ceremony (PA)

They operated under the direction of the Queen’s brother-in-law, society photographer the Earl of Snowdon, who was deemed the man to organise a traditional ceremony for the television age on a shoestring budget of £50,000.

Earl of Snowdon
The Earl of Snowdon with his children Viscount Linley and Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones arriving at Caernarfon Castle for the investiture (PA)

There were intense preparations for Charles as well.

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From April of that year, he spent nine weeks at the University of Aberystwyth learning Welsh.

Charles in Wales
The prince arriving at the Aberystwyth University to begin a nine week course in the Welsh language (PA)

It was an attempt by the royal family to address scepticism of Charles as a Prince of Wales, with the investiture seen by some as representing centuries of English occupation in Wales.

Charles in Wales
Charles at Aberystwyth University in the Language Laboratory in April 1969 (PA)

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The month before the spectacle, the royals invited cameras into their home for the first time with an unprecedented fly-on-the-wall television documentary – The Royal Family.

It showed day-to-day family life, from the Duke of Edinburgh frying sausages on a barbecue to the Queen sitting at the breakfast table, as well as preparations for the investiture.

Charles go-karting
Charles gives his five-year-old brother Prince Edward a ride on a go-kart in the grounds of Windsor Castle in 1969 (PA)

Critics claimed that Richard Cawston’s film destroyed the mystique of the royals by showing them to be ordinary people, and it was later withdrawn from public viewing.

Images were also taken in 1969 of Charles go-karting with his five-year-old brother Prince Edward, and slicing a loaf of bread in his student kitchen at Trinity College, Cambridge University.

There were various visits to Wales for the prince including a walk and a picnic in Snowdonia after chairing a countryside committee meeting at Bangor University – a month before his big day.

Charles in Snowdonia
The prince having a picnic in Snowdonia in 1969 (PA)

On July 1, the scene was finally set inside Caernarfon Castle, where the walls were adorned with gigantic banners.

The central feature was a low, simple, circular dais made of Welsh slate, below a modern perspex canopy, with three contemporary backless thrones for the Queen, Charles and the Duke of Edinburgh, and distinctive vermilion red investiture chairs for guests.

Investiture of the Prince of Wales
The view inside Caernarfon Castle (PA)

A young Charles, with his hair neatly combed into a side parting, was dressed in his uniform as Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Regiment of Wales as he took his place in the grounds.

Charles
The Prince of Wales arriving for his investiture (PA)

His sister Princess Anne, then only 18, channelled 60s fashion in a short blue coat-dress and pillbox hat, as she joined her grandmother the Queen Mother and aunt Princess Margaret.

Royal fashions on the day
Princess Anne, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret arriving (PA)

More than 4,000 guests filled the stands of the imposing medieval royal fortress – the birthplace of the first English Prince of Wales, the future King Edward II, in 1284.

The procession
The procession during the ceremony (PA)

During the ceremony, the Queen attired her heir with a sword, coronet, ring, rod and mantle of ermine and purple velvet.

The sword was a symbol of justice, the coronet a token of rank, the ring a token of duty and the rod a symbol of government.

The rod, ring and sword regalia were the same used by the future King Edward VIII at his Prince of Wales investiture in 1911, while the gold coronet was newly created.

The ceremony
The Queen places the coronet on her son’s head (PA)

Charles swore an oath to the monarch saying: “I, Charles, Prince of Wales, do become your liege man of life and limb and of earthly worship and faith and truth I will bear unto thee to live and die against all manner of folks.”

The oath of allegiance
Charles swearing the oath of allegiance to his mother, the Queen (PA)

He later recalled: “For me, by far the most moving and meaningful moment came when I put my hands between Mummy’s and swore to be her liege man of life and limb and to live and die against all manner of folks – such magnificent medieval, appropriate words, even if they were never adhered to in those old days.”

Charles and the Queen
A kiss for the Queen (PA)

Charles gave two speeches, one in Welsh and one in English.

The prince's speech
The newly-invested prince reading a speech (PA)

He was presented at the castle’s arched stone King’s Gate by the Queen following the proceedings to rapturous applause.

At the King's Gate
The Queen presents the prince at the castle’s King’s Gate after the ceremony (PA)

What came after for the 20-year-old was a week-long tour of Wales, with the prince later writing in his diary: “Last week has been an incredible one in my life and it now seems very odd not to have to wave to hundreds of people.”

Charles's tour
The Prince of Wales walking through Queen’s Square in Blaenau Festiniog the first day of his meet-the-people tour of Wales (PA)

The prince’s visit this week, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of his investiture, is his 15th annual summer trip to Wales.

Charles and Camilla in 2005
Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall taking tea at Cwm Berem Farm in Dyfed in 2005 – the year they married (Ian Jones/PA)
Charles and William on Anglesey
The Duke of Cambridge showing the prince one of the Sea King helicopters he was captaining in RAF Valley on Anglesey in 2012 (Chris Jackson/PA)
Aberdaron
Charles and Camilla in the village of Aberdaron in 2016 (Chris Jackson/PA)

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