The Welsh first minister said anti-monarchists have the right to protest in Cardiff when King Charles visits the Welsh capital on Friday on the final leg of his four-nation tour, but called for restraint.
Mark Drakeford also made it clear that he did not expect there to be an extravagant investment in William, the new Prince of Wales, but said he believed he could play an important role in Welsh life.
The first Labor minister said that while no one would expect William to suddenly become fluent in Welsh, he believed he would “like to recognise” his importance in shaping modern life in Wales.
A silent anti-monarchy demonstration is due to start from 1pm at Cardiff Castle, organized under the banner ‘Real Democracy Now’.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Drakeford said: “People have a legitimate right to protest and there is a range of views. Myself, I don’t think this is the week that this discussion should come to the surface. But people have that right and I think it will be exercised with restraint and be a footnote to the dominant emotions of the day.”
He called for the policing of the protest to be proportionate. “It should recognize the rights that people have. I have complete confidence in South Wales Police who have dealt with this type of incident many times. They will deal with the protest proportionately, ensuring that those rights are respected but that those rights do not interfere with what most people will have come to Cardiff today to exercise.”
The King’s visit comes on Owain Glyndŵr Day, a celebration of the life and legacy of the last Welshman to be called Prince of Wales. Many nationalists and republicans see the title as a symbol of English oppression and more than 27,000 people have signed a petition calling for its abolition.
Charles’ investiture in 1969 as Prince of Wales led to protests.
Asked if there would be a grand ceremony for William, Drakeford said: “The Wales of 2022 is very different to the Wales of 1969.” He said he did not expect the 1969 ceremony pattern to be used.
“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 settle into this role, work out where he can contribute most to creating the successful Wales of the future, and there will be plenty of time to consider when and how a more formal marking of this new role.”
He continued: “I had a chat with the new Prince of Wales. We didn’t talk directly about the investment, but he told me that he wanted to take his new responsibilities slowly, that he wanted to give time to fully develop his knowledge of Wales and the things that matter in Wales today. established himself, to think about where he could make his own contribution more powerfully, and I thought that made a lot of sense.”
Drakeford said the new prince’s interest in the environment could match Wales’ ambitions. “The future of Wales lies in the contribution we can make to the renewable energy revolution the world needs,” he said.
The first minister said no one expected William to suddenly become fluent in Welsh. “No one expects miracles,” he said. But he added: “The Welsh language is a very important part of Wales which is spoken by thousands of people every day. It’s not necessarily the easiest language to pick up later. I’m sure the incoming Prince of Wales will want to recognize the importance of the Welsh language and the role it plays in shaping modern Wales.”
Crowds gathered outside Llandaff Cathedral ahead of the King’s visit. King Charles and Camilla, the Queen Consort, will travel to Wales by helicopter where they will attend a service of prayer and reflection at the cathedral.
The couple will then travel to the Senedd, where they will receive condolences and meet members of the Welsh Parliament. From there they will travel to Cardiff Castle where Charles will have a private audience with Drakeford.