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Owain Glyndŵr’s day and King Charles’s visit to Wales

September the 16th is when Owain Glyndŵr’s day is celebrated in Wales. Owain Glyndŵr was the last native-born Prince of Wales.

Michael Sheen posted a video talking about the irony of King Charles’s visit to Wales on this day in 2022, and about the declaration of the new non-native Prince and Princess of Wales.

A transcript is available below.

Hello!

Well it’s an absolutely beautiful day here in Wales. It’s also a very important day. For a number of reasons. Firstly because today, September the 16th, is the day that the new king, Charles, after the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth the second, it’s the first time he’s visiting Wales, as King Charles the third. 

It’s been an extraordinary last period of time, very emotional and sort of era-defining period of time. So much tradition, and history and so much sense of loss and sadness and grief, and I offer my sincerest sympathies to Charles and his family, on the loss of their mother, grandmother. And to everybody who is feeling such depth of emotion and a sense of that loss. Obviously for people who feel so proud of their Britishness, the Queen is very much a symbol of that. And I think has really connected with people because of her extraordinary sense of duty and service to her country, and that she’s been there for so long and has been such a sort of fixed point for people. 

It has been an extraordinary, overwhelming period of time, and still is, I think. And to see the extraordinary sense of history and tradition and all the symbolism that goes with that, has been very, very powerful. 

But of course there’s more than one story in these isles, there is more than one tradition, more than one history. And today is a very important day as well, because September the 16th is the day that many people here in Wales celebrate Owain Glyndŵr, who was the last native Prince of Wales – self proclaimed. He led a rebellion against the English crown, not only to free his nation as he saw it, but to create his nation. Owain Glyndŵr’s vision for what Wales could be and what he started to try and build, began with his proclaiming of himself as the native Prince of Wales. 

Before him had been Llywelyn ap Gruffydd who had been acknowledged as Prince of Wales, but he is now known as Llywelyn the Last. He didn’t know he was called that at the time, obviously! But he’s known as Llywelyn the Last because he’s the last recognised Prince of Wales. But then after that it was Owain Glyndŵr who proclaimed himself, and then led a rebellion that went on for fifteen years. But was eventually crushed, and that was the last time Wales had a native Prince of Wales. 

And since then, in the tradition that Edward the first began, by naming his own son Prince Edward Prince of Wales, in a sort of symbolic act of rebuke and punishment and humiliation, some would say, of Wales, and with the intent to stop the Welsh nation developing and emerging, which was the dream of Owain Glyndŵr. And so this day, September the 16th, is important to many people in Wales, because of that, because it marks the moment where Glyndŵr claimed the title Prince of Wales again.

So those two things are obviously connected, because of course, to choose September the 16th to come to Wales, having only a short time ago proclaimed that he had created his son William as the new Prince of Wales – or Tywysog Cymru – and to choose this day September 16th to come here as his first visit as King, seems full of meaning.

On the one hand, if it’s chosen deliberately, then I’m sure many people would feel that that’s quite insulting to those that celebrate Owain Glyndŵr, the man who tried to free this nation from the oppressive force of the English monarch at the time. And having been told that the new Prince and Princess of Wales would take on those titles with a great sense of humility and respect for Wales and to celebrate the history, the proud history and traditions of Wales. It is quite surprising then, to see that the first official visit is on this very particular day. 

Yes, if it was done on purpose then it seems insensitive to the point of insult, and if it wasn’t done on purpose, if it was done accidentally without realising what that day was, then one does wonder what being Prince of Wales for so long actually meant if you’re not aware of what that day means. 

So, an important day in many ways, and I think with King Charlies in Cardiff at the moment, meeting the Welsh government, I’m not entirely sure that they will be talking about that! 

And so I just wanted to add my voice to many others who are marking the irony of Owain Glyndŵr’s day, the celebrations for Owain Glyndŵr’s day, being cancelled today, because of the visit of an English monarch. It is, to put it mildly, ironic. I hope it’s not a declaration of intent. Because that would be very concerning.

So happy Owain Glyndŵr’s day to you, King Charles the third, and to you, Prince William, Croeso i Gymru. And to all those in Wales who feel a deep meaning to this day. 

And to borrow the words of another Welshman, and to slightly mess around with them, Dylan Thomas from Under Milk Wood:

Where did you get that name from, Willy?
Got it from my father, silly.
Give it back then, love.