In his first televised address the day after the Queen’s death, King Charles announced Prince William and his wife Catherine as the new princes and princesses of Wales.
The promptness of the appointment reflects the crown’s desire to outwardly demonstrate stability and continuity following Queen Elizabeth’s death. But that was somewhat dampened by the news that Mark Drakeford, the first minister of Wales, claimed to be uninformed about William’s appointment. The Protocol does not state this is necessary, but William spoke of his desire to “serve the people of Wales”, which is probably not the best way to start.
Some, such as former Plaid Cymru leader Lord Elis-Thomas, have questioned the need to continue with the title. And a petition to rescind it garnered 25,000 signatures in just a few days of being launched.
These critics consider the title disrespectful to Wales, insofar as it undermines Wales’ status as a nation and people in its own right. For some, its continued use symbolizes the historical oppression associated with Wales as a principality and the British invasion of the country.
“Tywysog Cymru”, or prince of Wales, is a historical title originally held by native Welsh kings and princes before the 12th century, who, for the most part, ruled from Gwynedd in the west. north Wales. After the conquest of Wales (1277-1283), Edward I moved to strengthen the position of the English crown in Wales, and declared his son, known as Edward of Caenarfon, to be the first English prince of Wales. .
Since then, the title has been given to the apparently British heir and then to the British throne, though not automatically and not always as quickly as King Charles gave Prince William. For example, it was gifted to Charles when he was 9 years old in 1958, about six years after the Queen’s reign began.
Importantly, the appointment of Charles as Prince of Wales prior to the secession, the passage of the Welsh Government Act 1998 (and subsequent amendments), and the establishment of Senedd. As a result of these developments, Wales now enjoys considerable political autonomy – which was not the case for most of Charles’ time as prince of Wales.
No doubt about these criticisms, William has said it is an “honor” to serve Wales, and has pledged to do so with “great humility and respect” for his people. Welsh people. Following his post-appointment conversation with the first minister of Wales, bilingual statements to that effect have now been published.
Another approach for a new prince?
There is no constitutional “rule book” that regulates the appointment of a prince of Wales in the modern era. The office does not direct official public responsibilities that are legislated by parliament, or delegated to William by law or custom.
The title could be viewed as a ceremonial gift from the king, with the minimal desire to support sovereignty as a focal point for national pride and unity. So in that sense, William as the new prince of Wales had some decisions to take a different approach from his father.
Charles gave some signals of his hope for William, such as when he spoke of others now talking about causes he felt passionate about, perhaps related to climate change, youth work and interfaith dialogue. He also said he hoped William and Catherine would “bring marginalized people to the center where important help can be given”, possibly signaling that he wants them to focus on inequality issues.
However, William has signaled that he intends to revamp the role including by cutting staff, refocusing and reducing the number of charities his office works with. While Charles and Camilla are presidents or patrons of more than 500 organizations, William and Catherine instead plan to focus on charities that prioritize mental health, children’s early years and environment.
What about Wales?
Drakeford has said that now is the time for William to “get to know Wales better,” and that the prince is “fully aware of the sensitivities surrounding the title.”
In keeping with these sentiments, the Welsh people can expect William to legally learn Cymraeg (Welsh), as his father famously did at the age of 21, during an intensive 9-year study. week on Welsh language and history at Aberystwyth University. We can also expect the prince to establish an official residence in Wales, similar to Charles’ Llwynywermod estate in Llandovery. After all, William and his wife spent time living in Angelsey, while he served with the RAF.
The new prince takes office at a time when the political realities of Wales have changed. Although the Welsh government has no official say in the matter, if the title continues to be placed after William, debates will follow on the relationship between the prince and Wales.
That would include some reflection on whether Wales should play a larger role in the appointment process, perhaps with a view to developing communication and ceremonial processes with Senedd, as evidence of this commitment. nation’s modern management of its own affairs.
While those debates are beginning to unfold, the outcome is unlikely to affect William’s tenure. However, the fact these conversations are taking place in person – and taking place in a country whose history has struggled to be heard within the UK union – is iconic.
The prince’s response to creating a job suitable for 21st century Wales shows respect and a willingness to change. This is a powerful example of how the Queen’s death has led to profound reflection on what the UK is, and what the people want it to be in the future, as well as revealing the lines of life. Wales as a separate country.
(Author:Stephen Clear, Lecturer in Constitutional and Administrative Law, and Public Procurement, Bangor University)
Public statement: Stephen Clear does not work for, consult, own shares or receive funding from any company or organization that could benefit from this article and does not disclose any affiliates involved beyond an academic appointment. their.
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