GUERILLA tactics to undermine the Royal Family have always been unpopular among the Welsh. Republican posters in Cardiff, Swansea and Aberdare last year missed the point when they proclaimed, “Wales doesn’t need a prince.”

We may not need the royals but we long for them to reign over us. More than other Britons, who should be more appropriately classed as Elizabethans rather than Monarchists, the Welsh will celebrate the upcoming Jubilee weekend and champion their next Prince of Wales when the time comes.

Long-aching nationalists have always sought to win the argument; but, if we are honest, few of the Welsh are bothered about the tragedy of their great princes from Llewelyn to Glyndŵr.

Alas the grand narrative of English conquest and subsequent centuries of humiliation has never captured the public imagination of a relatively conservative public.

READ MORE: Leigh Jones: Welsh hearts and minds are needed for a republic

In more recent times, the edge of radicalism that flashes throughout the arc of Welsh history has, however, reappeared: more powers, more protection for the language, more independence. Still the monarchy is immune.

A recent poll by Beaufort Research found that – excluding “don’t knows” – 70 percent of the Welsh public want to see Prince William made Prince of Wales at an investiture.

The support for next weekend’s Jubilee weekend is even higher with 73 percent of Wales being interested in its events, according to the think tank British Future.

Like with other issues, the question of nationalism and the future of the UK most prominent, the Welsh seem like outliers compared to Scots and even show more enthusiasm than parts of England for maintaining relations with neighbours.  

The Royal Family plays a largely symbolic role in Welsh society, increasingly a public brand rather than an institution, that appeals to a country lacking in glamour and celebrity.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have a unique ability to do this, reaching out to different age groups and backgrounds while providing the pomp and ceremony the Welsh are partial to.

That doesn’t mean the next Prince and Princess of Wales face no peril: Wales in 2022 is flooded with institutions reflecting national identity and a solid left-wing government supported by Plaid Cymru.

It is a nation very different to when Prince Charles strode through the gates of Caernarfon Castle half a century ago.

Younger royals have benefitted from the strong groundwork that has been laid by the current Prince of Wales since that controversial day.

Prince Charles has been the most recognisable Cymrophile to hold that post in history. Advisers have helped him and the Royal Family become more ingrained in Welsh life, setting up headquarters in Myddfai just outside Llandovery.

As Prince of Wales, he has always understood his place in a complex lineage of predecessors, with an acute antenna for Welsh nationhood that is far greater than many politicians in the Senedd.

Of all the UK’s four nations, Wales appears to enjoy royalty most. This is not a symbol of a conquered peoples’ deference but their craving for institutions that bring people together.

Perhaps the symbolic resonance of the monarchy is a form of escapism for the Welsh, a reminder of what keeps things ticking across Britain.


The Jubilee celebrations will not electrify every street in Wales filled with tea and cake but there will be plenty that will turn out, in line with traditions of the occasion but also what the Welsh enjoy doing as a communitarian nation.

There are limits to the pervasiveness of royalism, too. The Welsh government was right not to distribute the platinum jubilee children’s book en masse to primary schools, following accusations that it was Anglocentric and did not give enough focus to the respective histories of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

This was not a hiccup from Buckingham Palace but the UK government, who fail to understand the magic of royalty is as a subtle presence in society rather than as a dominating feature of national identity.

Wales is the best case study. In no place across Britain have the royals mastered their presence among subjects. It may upset some quarters of Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru but there are still plenty among them who long to see the prestige of a Prince of Wales and a Royal Family present in Wales.

And those on the opposite side of the debate, a dream of a Welsh republic has never been so distant. Just watch the celebrations unfold next week to find out.

If you value The National's journalism, help grow our team of reporters by becoming a subscriber.