BBC's Guto Harri
"George Thomas suggested the prince had come
under the influence of nationalists"
|| Saturday, 1 January, 2000, 08:23 GMT
Prince accused of 'Welsh nationalism'
George Thomas accused Prince Charles of helping
Newly-released Cabinet papers show that during the
Investiture in 1969 the then Welsh Secretary accused the
Prince of Wales of making speeches which "boosted
George Thomas, Welsh Secretary between 1968 and 1970,
wrote to the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, to suggest he
had "a discreet word" with the Queen about her
The Investiture came at the end of a decade of growing
pressure for greater recognition of Welsh national
Tension over Investiture
Plaid Cymru had won its first Westminster seat in 1966,
and there had been a sustained campaign of civil
disobedience to try to secure public recognition for the
The Investiture was seen by nationalists as an attempt to
use a British royal occasion to stifle emerging Welsh
The then Welsh Secretary, George Thomas, was a hardline
opponent of attempts to promote devolution and to improve
the legal position of the Welsh language, which at that
time was denied official status.
In later life he became Speaker of the House of Commons
and entered the House of Lords as Viscount Tonypandy. He
treasured his royal connections, and was invited to read
the lesson at the Prince of Wales's wedding.
The Investiture took place against a background
of political tension
However, it appears from the new evidence that in the
tense political climate of 1969, the Prince's positive
remarks about Welsh politics and culture proved too much
for Mr Thomas.
In a letter written on July 22, 1969, three weeks after
the Investiture at Caernarfon Castle, Mr Thomas said he
did not know who the Prince's advisers were but he was
concerned that a dangerous situation was developing.
Mr Thomas said: "On two occasions he has made public
speeches which have political implications.
"If the Prince is writing his own speeches, he may
well be tempted to go further.
"The enthusiasm of youth is a marvellous spur, but
it may lead to speeches that cause real difficulty."
Mr Thomas complained that the Prince was talking about
"cultural and political awakening in Wales" and
that such a statement was "most helpful for the
Mr Thomas said the Prince's views were influenced by
people he had met during the three months he spent
learning Welsh at University College of Wales,
In his letter Mr Thomas said: "He was subjected to
concentrated attention by Welsh Nationalists.
"His tutor, his neighbour in the next room, and the
Principal were all dedicated Nationalists.
"It has become quite evident to me that the
Aberystwyth experience has influenced the Prince to a
Mr Thomas, who later became Speaker of the Commons and
Viscount Tonypandy, handwrote his letter to avoid his
office staff knowing about it.
Senior officials in Downing Street agreed to have a
"low-key" discussion with their counterparts in
The Cabinet papers show that the Prince was offered
ministerial advice on issues which he was interested in.
A Downing Street official noted: "The Prime Minister
recognised that the concern which the Secretary of State
for Wales had expressed was a matter which was
Another internal note to the Prime Minister said that
Prince Charles "may perhaps be modelling himself on
his father. But he is in a different constitutional
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