On This Date in History: July 1, 1969. Formal Investiture of HRH The Prince of Wales.
The death of George VI, grandfather of the Prince of Wales, and the accession of his mother as Queen Elizabeth II on February 6, 1952 made Charles her heir apparent. As the monarch’s eldest son, he automatically took the titles Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland. These titles are hereditary and are traditionally inherited by the eldest son of the monarch.
The Titles Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester are not hereditary and therefore have to be recreated anew for each heir to the throne. The Queen created Charles Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester on July 26, 1958, though it was decided the formal investiture would not be held until 1 July 1969, when he was older.
Charles was crowned by his mother in a televised ceremony held at Caernarfon Castle. He took his seat in the House of Lords in 1970, and he made his maiden speech at a debate in June 1974, becoming the first royal to speak in the Lords since his great-great-grandfather, later Edward VII, whom also spoke as Prince of Wales, in 1884.
Charles is the longest-serving Prince of Wales, having surpassed the record held by Edward VII on September 9, 2017. He is the oldest and longest-serving British heir apparent, the longest-serving Duke of Cornwall, and the longest-serving Duke of Rothesay. If he becomes monarch, he will be the oldest person to do so; the current record holder being William IV, who was 64 when he became king in 1830.
Ever since Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland set the standard that the Prince of Wales should wear a coronet, even designing how it should look, Prince’s of Wales have traditionally worn a coronet ever since.
A relatively modest coronet was made in 1728 for Frederick-Louis, Prince of Wales, the eldest son of George II. As mentioned, this coronet takes the form laid down in a royal warrant issued by Charles II which states that the heir apparent of the Crown shall use and bear a coronet of crosses and fleurs-de-lis with one arch surmounted by a ball and cross. The single arch denotes inferiority to the monarch and shows that the prince outranks other royal children, whose coronets have no arches.Frederick-Louis never wore his gold coronet; instead, it was placed on a cushion in front of him when he took his seat in the House of Lords. It was used by his son, George III, then his son, George IV, and last used by Edward VII when he was Prince of Wales.
Coronet of Frederick-Louis, Prince of Wales
Due to its age, a new silver-gilt coronet was made for his son, the future George V, to wear at Edward’s coronation in 1902. In contrast to the earlier coronet, which has a depressed arch, the arch on this one is raised. At George’s own coronation in 1911, the coronet was worn by his son, Edward, the next Prince of Wales. After he became king in 1936, Edward VIII abdicated later the same year and, as the Duke of Windsor, went into exile in France, taking the 1902 coronet with him; it remained abroad until his death in 1972. In its absence, another coronet had to be made for the investiture of Prince Charles in 1969. Unlike the defunct coronets, this one is not a part of the Crown Jewels but the Honours of the Principality of Wales.
This new coronet follows the form laid down by King Charles II in 1677 by having just one arch rather than the traditional two arches or four half-arches of British monarchs’ crowns to show that the Prince of Wales is inferior to the monarch but outranks the other royal princes and dukes. Though based on this traditional design, the coronet has a futurist look that was popular in the 1960s, and it was created by the eccentric designer Louis Osman.
In the centre of the arch is a monde (a gold-plated ping-pong ball) engraved with the Prince of Wales’s insignia by Malcolm Appleby, surmounted by a plain cross. Orbiting the monde are 13 square diamonds set in platinum arranged as the constellation of Scorpio – the Prince of Wales’s star sign. Within the 24-carat textured gold base is a purple velvet cap lined with ermine. Around the base are four crosses and four abstract fleurs-de-lis in 22-carat gold (Mined in the Mawddach Valley in Merionethshire, it was the last Welsh gold held in stock by Johnson Matthey.) sparsely decorated with diamonds and emeralds. The diamonds on the base are intended to represent the seven deadly sins and the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.In total, the coronet has 75 diamonds and 12 emeralds – green being the national colour of Wales – and weighs 1.36 kilograms (3 lb). It measures 26.5 centimetres (10.4 in) tall and 28.8 centimetres (11.3 in) in diameter at the widest point.
Coronet of Charles, Prince of Wales.
When Osman unveiled the coronet in London, he described it as “something that is modern.” Personally, I think this coronet is hideous!
The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths presented the coronet to Queen Elizabeth II for the investiture at Caernarfon Castle on 1 July 1969. The Prince of Wales has not worn his coronet since his investiture; the coronet was carried before him when he took his seat in the House of Lords in 1970. The coronet was loaned to the National Museum and Gallery of Wales by Queen Elizabeth II in 1974. It was placed into storage at St James’s Palace, London in 2011.