Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The long line

The Queen visits Caernarvon today, recalling her son's investiture there as Prince of Wales 41 years ago. It was all a bit cod of course - stage managed by that arch-poser Louis Mountbatten - but nevertheless effective: despite various nationalist protests (or partly because of them?) it boosted the monarchy's popularity in Wales. Having access to the pageantry on the TV proved both alluring and, I would guess, flattering (the Welsh are grateful just to be noticed).

Opinion polls have consistently confirmed the popularity amongst the Welsh of the Windsors and what is really the English office of Prince of Wales. Over 70% of Welsh people (the proportion is about the same for Welsh-speakers) would welcome Prince William as Prince of Wales (can't remember where I read this).

I wonder when it will happen? Quite a useful card for the Palace or the Government to play if they're in need of a bit of a boost some time (the timing of the last investiture, which had been promised since 1958, may have been politically motivated, occurring as it did in the wake of some Plaid by-election successes). I have no doubt it would again be a ceremony of great pageantry, probably supplemented by a large portion of sentiment. The Welsh fruit of the English Rose, that sort of thing (feeling queasy?).

Anyway, if Wales does ever get sick of the English royal house, it's not short of candidates to take up the princely reins: the Anwyl of Towyn family have a good claim and the Williams-Wynn family (one ghostly member of which can be found commenting in this parish) a less good one.

I can't quite see Wales as a republic. Such a disunited nation needs some sort of unifying symbol that sits above the jealousies of politics. It's also a place where rationalism isn't highly prized but romance is (note that Wales is the only nation in Western Europe to have a heraldic beast on its national flag). Even in RS Thomas's otherwise seemingly disillusioned poem on the Investiture one can find an attraction to the 'long line' that renews itself:
To pay for his keep

So this was on the way
to a throne! He looked round
at the perspiring ranks
of ageing respectables:
police, tradesmen, councillors,
rigid with imagined
loyalty; and beyond them at
the town with its mean streets and
pavements filthy with
dog shit.
              The castle was
huge. All that dead weight
of the past, that overloading
of the law's mounting
equipment! A few medals
would do now. He permitted
himself a small smile,
sipping at it in the mind's
               And never noticed,
because of the dust raised
by the prayers of the fagged
clergy, that far hill
in the sun with the long line
of its trees climbing
it like a procession
of young people, young as himself.

'...sipping at it in the mind's coolness': very good, that.


Sean said...

When the natives work out that they are potentially sitting on lots of money, I am sure the cottages will once again be burned.

This is a link

worm said...

well Charles is Duke of Cornwall too, and nobody asked for him either. I say lets get rid of the jugeared poltroon and install a new Worm-like god for the cornish savages to worship.

Sir Watkin said...

the Williams-Wynn family (one ghostly member of which can be found commenting in this parish) a less good one

Mater o farn yw hynny ....

Gaw said...

Sean: But wouldn't that be a nice thing? Forget the impact on the Welsh, think of the Russians...

Worm: Do you have any new Worm-like god candidates in mind?

Sir Watkin: That's an uncharacteristically restrained opinion. I was expecting something a little more trenchant.

Sir Watkin said...

Sir Watkin is mellowing in his old age.

Also this Election has sapped his will to live and strive.

Bring back Rotten Boroughs!! (Sir Watkin had one once.)

zmkc said...

'that arch poser Louis Mountbatten' - hurrah to that.

zmkc said...

You might like these ancient pictures of Wales:

Gaw said...

Thanks for that z. BTW have you read Andrew Roberts' nailing of Mountbatten in Eminent Churcillians? Delectable.

zmkc said...

I haven't, but shall seek it out with glee.