Investiture of the Prince of Wales

24 June 2019

HRH Prince Charles was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester by Letters Patent dated 26 July 1958. Building on the ancient tradition of bestowing this title on the eldest son and heir apparent of the Sovereign, and following the precedent set by the future Edward VIII, who was formally recognised or invested as Prince of Wales at a ceremony at Caernarfon Castle in 1911, it was decided that Prince Charles should be formally invested in a ceremony there. He would be invested by The Queen with the sword, coronet, ring, rod and mantle, whilst the Letters Patent of his creation were read in Welsh; and would then take his oath as Her Majesty’s liege man.

The Investiture of the Prince of Wales took place at Caernarfon Castle on 1 July 1969. Some footage of the ceremony may be seen here.  The ceremony was arranged by the Earl Marshal, Duke of Norfolk, with the Officers of Arms acting as his staff officers. What follows is an exhibition of some of the records of this work, which are held in the archives of the College of Arms.

1Personal flag granted to the Prince of Wales to be used in Wales. Granted by Royal Warrant, 21 May 1968. College of Arms Ms I. 83 p. 161 


2Pages from the Order of Service for the Ceremony of Investiture, which was printed in English and Welsh. The ceremony begins with Garter King of Arms carrying The Queen’s summons to The Prince of Wales, followed by a procession led by Wales Herald Extraordinary and Chester Herald. College of Arms Ms Acc 2019/3


3Badge of Wales Herald Extraordinary, granted in 1967. The mediaeval position of Wales Herald Extraordinary was re-created for Major Francis Jones by Royal Warrant in August 1963. The current holder of the post is Mr Thomas Lloyd, noted architectural historian. College of Arms Ms I. 83 p. 147


4.14.2A competition was launched to create designs for approved souvenirs to commemorate the ceremony. The College of Arms, as the heraldic authority for England and Wales, produced a catalogue of 50 armorial insignia of The Queen and The Prince of Wales which were approved for use on souvenirs and could be purchased for inclusion in a design. College of Arms Ms Acc 2019/3 


5Page of letter from Garter King of Arms to the Earl of Snowdon concerning flags that might be flown at Caernarfon Castle on the day of the Investiture Ceremony. College of Arms Ms Investiture of the Prince of Wales, Garter vol 4 


6Page of notes determining the arms of the 16 noble tribes or families of Wales, to be used in decorating Caernarfon Castle for the Ceremony of Investiture. In the mid-15th century there were said to be 15 noble families of Wales or North Wales (Gwynedd); however, this list has a 16th family, that of Tudor Trefor, or the tribe of the March. The references are to manuscripts in the College of Arms, including a late 16th century manuscript in the Vincent Collection and manuscripts of heraldic visitations in 1623. College of Arms Ms Investiture of the Prince of Wales, Garter vol 4



7.2The important symbolism of heraldic seals as the representatives of their owners is demonstrated in these letters. The patent creating Charles Prince of Wales was to be read aloud at the ceremony, with a ‘dummy’ to be used in the case of rain, so that the parchment of the original would not be ruined. A realistic copy would include the Great Seal, but to affix the Great Seal to a copy would be unconstitutional, as John Hunt of the Crown Office at the House of Lords states. However, Lord Gardiner, the Lord High Chancellor, felt an exception would be made in this special case. College of Arms Ms Investiture of the Prince of Wales, Garter vol 2



8.2Office copy of letter from Garter King of Arms to the Earl Marshal, conveying some of the Earl of Snowdon’s suggestions for the design of the setting in which the Investiture was to take place. Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon, was the husband of Princess Margaret and Constable of Caernarfon Castle. As a photographer and filmmaker the Earl’s input on the visual aspect of the ceremony was of course highly valuable, and this letter shows him putting forward the names of some theatre designers who might be commissioned to design the dias. College of Arms Ms Investiture of the Prince of Wales, Garter vol 4


9Note to Garter King of Arms from the Earl of Snowdon, returning a hat left behind when a group of Officers of Arms visited Caernarfon Castle ahead of the ceremony. College of Arms Ms Investiture of the Prince of Wales, Garter vol 4


10Ticket admitting to the ceremony Elisabeth Dennys, wife of Rodney O. Dennys, Rouge Croix Pursuivant of Arms. This was amongst a bundle of memorabilia, mostly newspaper cuttings, left at the College of Arms by Rodney Dennys, who later was first Somerset Herald, then Arundel Herald Extraordinary. The couple met when they served in British Intelligence before and during the Second World War. College of Arms Ms Acc 2013/91


12An article in The Observer magazine shows contemporary interest in all aspects of the Investiture, including heraldry. College of Arms Ms Acc 2013/91 


13An article in The Times newspaper concerning the heraldry used to decorate the Castle includes a photograph of Norman Manwaring, herald painter at the College of Arms. College of Arms Ms Acc 2013/91


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