(Caernarfon) The image, with slightly faded colours, suggests two people, recognizable at first glance, atop the imposing Welsh castle of Caernarfon, a historical moment frozen in time by a young schoolgirl in 1969.
Posted at 7:30am
“He was there, on the balcony, with his mother,” says Maria Sarnacki, positioning the photo in front of her, in front of the same balcony where Queen Elizabeth II and the then-crowned Prince of Wales, Charles, greeted the crowd.
“It was an incredible day. I was convinced that she was pointing and waving at me, the 11-year-old little girl,” recalls the now 66-year-old.
Charles’ installation as Prince of Wales by his mother in an ancient ritual ceremony at this majestic 13th-century castle on the North Wales coast was watched on television by millions around the world.
The event was brought to life in the hit series The Crown, in which the Queen places a crown on 20-year-old Charles, who is kneeling on a granite pedestal.
There will likely be no equivalent for William, who was created Prince of Wales by his father, who is now King, last week.
Nearly 25,000 people have signed a petition to remove the title, which they say is “an insult to Wales and a symbol of historic oppression”.
“A lot of people are opposed to this title of Prince of Wales because they think it should go to a Welshman,” Maria Sarnacki, now mayor of Caernarfon, told AFP.
At half-mast for national mourning, the Welsh flag with its kite and the British Union Jack flutter side by side above the castle. Caernarfon’s history does not make it a royalist stronghold.
“Opinions will be very divided” over William’s proclamation as Prince of Wales, said Geraint Thomas, 49, who maintains a photo gallery.
The city boasts the highest percentage of Welsh speakers in the country. A language Charles tried to learn for a semester at Aberystwyth University, 50 miles south of Caernarfon.
Armed with junk spears, children play in the courtyard of the castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with the bloody history of England and Wales etched within its walls.
The title of Prince of Wales originally went to Welsh princes, but the last, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, was killed by King Edward I of England in 1282.
His head was then panned to the top of the Tower of London.
To tame Wales, Edward began a frenzy of castle building, including Caernarfon, where his heir, the future Edward II, was born in 1284.
He then gave his son the title of Prince of Wales in 1301, and English rulers continued this tradition with their heirs.
“It’s historically a provocative title,” says Thomas, whose gallery displays two red flags from the Welsh independence movement.
When the Queen chose Caernarfon to inaugurate Charles in 1969, she had already made a controversial decision.
Demonstrations took place around the castle and nationalists attempted to plant a bomb on the train tracks, which Charles took to the ceremony.
Since then, Wales has gained more political freedom from London and distanced itself from the royal family, which seems more tied to Scotland.
“I think we should have a Welsh prince,” said Rhiannon Evans, 23, who works in a bar in Caernarfon. “And be an independent country”.
King Charles will visit Cardiff on Friday after visiting Edinburgh and Belfast on a tour that showed his support for Britain’s unification.
But he has been criticized for appointing William Prince of Wales without consulting the Welsh people, starting with his first minister.
Although the Welsh say they “respect” William and his wife Kate, who lived on Anglesey, a Welsh island, [leur] was imposed by the new king,” said Selwyn Jones, who works in a bookshop in the city, and for him it would be “even more unhealthy than in 1969” to organize the Investiture in Caernarfon.