King Charles and Queen Consort will visit Wales today: First Minister Mark Drakeford insists planned protests won’t disrupt historic trip – and admits ‘nobody will be expecting miracles’ from Prince William to learn the language like his father
- Thousands will gather at Llandaff Cathedral and Cardiff Castle to greet the King as he arrives in Wales
- But there will also be protests – as royal couple arrive on Owain Glyndwr Day celebrating last Welsh prince
- Mark Drakeford has said protests will be a ‘footnote’ on a historic day for Wales and their new King
- First Minister says he has spoken to Prince William – but does not expect ‘miracles’ when it comes to his Welsh
- The Queen’s funeral: All the latest Royal Family news and coverage
King Charles III will be greeted with cannon-fire as he sets foot on Welsh soil for the first time as monarch today and Cardiff welcomes the former Prince of Wales – its longest-serving in history.
The monarch and the Queen Consort will this morning land in the Welsh capital by helicopter from Highgrove, where Her Majesty’s mourning son has spent the past 24 hours.
Thousands are expected to gather at Llandaff Cathedral and Cardiff Castle to greet the King, who was Prince of Wales for more than 53 years and whose mother the Queen will be buried with her wedding ring – made of Welsh gold meaning made so she would ‘always carry a piece of Wales’ with her.
But there will also be protests as the royal couple arrive on Owain Glyndwr Day – celebrating the revered and last native Welshman to hold the title Prince of Wales who died in hiding from Henry V of England in 1415 after leading a battle for independence.
A silent demonstration will begin from 1pm at Cardiff Castle, organisers have said, but First Minister Mark Drakeford believes it will not disrupt the visit, claiming it will be a ‘footnote’ to the main proceedings.
He said: ‘People have a legitimate right to protest and there are a variety of views’.
King Charles III will be greeted with cannon-fire as he sets foot on Welsh soil for the first time as monarch today as he comes to Cardiff. First Minister Mark Drakeford says the protests will not ruin the event
A raft of police officers have just arrived in Llandaff. The cathedral is the first stop on the Royal couple’s tour of Cardiff today.
People wait outside Llandaff Cathedral ahead of Wales’ National Service of Prayer and Reflection for Britain’s Queen Elizabeth
A decision to allow Prince Harry to wear his military uniform during a special vigil in honour of the Queen was last night branded a victory for ‘common sense’.
It comes after reports claimed that Princes William and Harry are set to take part in a special vigil in honour of the Queen on Saturday.
The Prince of Wales and the Duke of Sussex will reportedly join the Queen’s six other grandchildren in a special 15 minute vigil at Westminster Hall.
It is believed the eight grandchildren will pay respects to the Queen by standing in silence beside Her Majesty’s coffin – in a scene which will mirror the Vigil of the Princes.
The special memorial saw King Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, stand guard at St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh earlier this week.
Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward will repeat the vigil at Westminster Hall on Friday night. But it will now reportedly be followed by a separate event by the grandchildren on Saturday.
In a further twist, the Duke of Sussex will be allowed to wear military uniform at the event following a Palace U-turn, according to The Mirror.
Prince Harry had, up until this point, been prevented from donning military colours, following his decision to step back from frontline royal duties.
However, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that this was not the week that such objections and debate needs ‘to surface’.
‘But people have that right and I think it will be exercised with restraint and it will be a footnote to the dominant feelings of the day.’
Mr Drakeford also stressed that he had confidence in the police to deal with protests in a ‘proportionate’ way, amid questions about the handling of demonstrators in other parts of the UK.
‘It should be proportionate. It should recognise the rights that people have.
‘I have every confidence in the South Wales Police who have dealt with this sort of event many times very successfully.’
The Welsh First Minister indicated that he did not expect the new Prince of Wales to follow in the footsteps of his father and learn Welsh.
Mr Drakeford told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that ‘nobody will be expecting miracles’ from Prince William on the language, admitting that it could be a ‘challenge’ to learn as an adult.
‘The language is a very important part of Wales, spoken by thousands of people every day as part of their everyday lives. It’s not necessarily the easiest language to acquire later on.
‘The incoming Prince of Wales will want to recognise the importance of the Welsh language and the part it plays in shaping the identity of a contemporary Wales.’
He said the Welsh people would understand and ‘appreciate’ any interest in the language show by the prince.
‘I don’t think anybody will expect somebody to have a suddenly acquired fluency in the Welsh language.’
‘Nobody will be expecting miracles.’
Mark Drakeford said he has spoken to the new Prince of Wales but not discussed the investiture proceedings directly.
However, he appeared to strongly suggest that the investiture need not follow the pattern set by the ceremony that saw Charles made prince of Wales in 1969.
‘The Wales of 2022 is very different to the Wales of 1969.
‘I don’t think looking back at that event and thinking of it as some sort of pattern that you would wish to pick up and copy, I don’t think that would be the right way to go about things.
‘I think the new Prince of Wales will want to take time to establish himself in that role, to work out where he can make the most contribution to creating a successful Wales of the future.’
Of his conversation with Prince William, Mr Drakeford said: ‘He did say to me that he wanted to take on his new responsibilities slowly, that he wanted to give time for his own knowledge of Wales the things that matter in the Wales of today, to be fully established, for him to think about where his own contribution could most powerfully be made. And I thought that was very sensible as an approach.’
The Welsh First Minister said that he did not think Friday’s proceedings would offer an opportunity for a meeting with the new Prime Minister.
Mark Drakeford told Sky News: ‘I think it’s unlikely that there’ll be that opportunity.
‘As you can imagine, these occasions are very carefully worked out in advance and every moment is accounted for.
‘The new Prime Minister will be Llandaff today. I doubt it will be an opportunity for a first meeting with her.’
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Cardiff Castle is one of three locations Charles will visit during his day-long tour of the capital, and where he will meet charitable organisations and faith leaders after having a private audience with First Minister Mark Drakeford.
Those attending the rally are expected to stand and hold signs with slogans such as ‘Why a Monarchy?’ and ‘Real democracy now’.
Campaigners say they want the Welsh public to consider whether a future without the monarchy is possible.
They have called on the Welsh Government and Cardiff Council to ask South Wales Police to respect their democratic right to protest, following the arrests and threats of action against people holding signs saying ‘Not my King’ in other cities.
Activist and former Senedd Member for Plaid Cymru Bethan Sayed said: ‘As soon as King Charles III decided to announce that Prince William should become Prince of Wales, so soon after the death of the Queen, many of us felt compelled to respond.
‘We must discuss the future of Wales, and what we want that to look like.
‘People tell us that now is not the time to discuss this issue, however, when the monarchy passes from the incumbent to a new King, now is exactly the time to discuss this matter.
‘It is about fairness, equality, and the Wales we want to shape for future generations.’
Speaking to PA, Ms Sayed added: ‘It is still a difficult time and we totally appreciate that. We all have family who’ve passed away.
‘So we have no intention of causing issues but we want our rights to hold and express a different view to be respected.
‘Because that is entirely legitimate if we actually call ourselves a democracy.’
A number of groups are joining to lead the protest under the banner Real Democracy Now, including trade unions, Welsh independence organisations and republicans.
However, Ms Sayed said anyone was invited to join including those wanting to protest against imperialism.
Adam Johannes, a left-wing campaigner and recent organiser of recent cost of living protests in Cardiff, said: ‘Personally my own mother passed away not so long ago so I have every empathy with a family in its personal grief.
‘But when we have these parades, these huge public events, they are in a sense political acts.
‘And yet one side of the debate is told ‘now is not the time’, meanwhile all kinds of things are being rushed through like the announcement that Prince William will be the new Prince of Wales.
‘So when there are these events, which it feels to us are almost like PR events to sure up support for the monarchy, we think it’s legitimate to also make our voices heard.’
A representative of Labour for an Independent Wales Representative, said: ‘Soon 67% of Welsh people will live in fuel poverty while the royals inherit millions, tax free.
‘Our democracy is weakened by their presence and so, ultimately, we push for an independent, socialist, Republic of Wales.’
Trade Unionist Cerith Griffiths said: ‘A lot has changed since Queen Elizabeth was crowned over 70 years ago.
‘Significantly, Wales now has its own Parliament and can pass legislation that makes a difference to those who live in Wales.
‘In 2016 several aspects of the Trade Union Act were dis-applied in Wales but now the Westminster government is overruling those decisions taken by an elected Welsh government.
‘If we truly value democracy, then we need to have a debate about the role of the monarchy and whether them enabling the government of another country overruling the democratic decisions taken here in Wales really is fit for the 21st century.’
A petition calling for an end to the Prince of Wales title has gathered more than 25,000 signatures in less than a week.
Leader of pro-independence party Plaid Cymru, Adam Price, has said a debate on the subject should be held ‘in due course’.
The party believe that in an independent Wales, people should have the right to vote on whether or not to keep a member of the royal family as head of state.
A petition against continuing with the Prince of Wales title has now hit 25,000 signatures, just under a week since it was started.
Pro-independence party Plaid Cymru There will be time, in due course, for a public debate surrounding the title of the Prince of Wales.
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