Bombs And Blooms: When Charles Was Crowned Prince Of Wales

The coronation on May 6 is not the first time King Charles III has been crowned.

Queen Elizabeth II formally crowned him Prince of Wales, 11 years after he was given the title as heir apparent in 1958.

The elaborate investiture ceremony in Caernarfon Castle on July 1, 1969, went off without a hitch, the bashful young prince stealing Welsh hearts with his attempts to speak the local language.

Behind the scenes, however, the organisers were battling a litany of potential disasters, from bomb threats to a last-minute flap over flowers.

Daffodil drought

For the post-ceremony dinner, the organisers had planned a single daffodil — the Welsh national flower — on the plate of each guest, but the spring blossom had long passed its prime in Britain.

An order instead had been placed with Kenya, but it was panic stations when Nairobi announced there would be no flowers, all the crops having perished in a heatwave.

Taking matters in hand, the BBC sent out an SOS on its programmes and a grower on the other side of the globe in New Zealand stepped in to save the day.

Six dozen of the yellow flowers were immediately dispatched by plane from Auckland, arriving on the morning of the investiture.

Bomb scares

The crowning of an English prince on Welsh soil sparked anger among Welsh nationalists, with extremists threatening to attack the event.

On the night before the ceremony, two Welsh nationalists accidentally blew themselves up while transporting explosives they planned to use to blow up government buildings in Abergele, a small town 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Caernarfon.

Meanwhile, a scare involving what appeared to be a bomb delayed the arrival of the royal train carrying Charles, Queen Elizabeth II and other royals by nearly an hour.

The ‘bomb’ was later found to be made of plasticine.

On the morning of the ceremony, which was watched by some 500 million people worldwide live on television, the pressure was palpable.

“Every second”, AFP wrote at the time, “worn out police officers will be watching the 250,000 crowd wondering if a terrorist isn’t among them, if a bomb won’t blow up the royal carriage, or if a gun isn’t pointing out from a window”.

Throughout the day there were more scares, with one bomb exploding in the local police constable’s garden during a 21-gun salute.

Egg throwing?

The queen had her own close shave as her horse-drawn royal carriage made its way to the castle.

In the crowd gathered to watch the procession, one young man lobbed what some observers described as an egg — but others described as a scrunched-up ball of paper — in her direction.

He missed and some irate onlookers attempted to take the law into their own hands, wrestling him to the ground to cries of “lynch him”.

Police arriving on the scene “had to prise them away”, AFP wrote.

At the castle gates, two other young men were taken into custody after allegedly booing the queen’s arrival.

Charm offensive

Charles began his speech in the Welsh language he had been swotting up for months before his big day.

He carried on in Welsh for two paragraphs, praising Welsh heritage, before switching to English.

In the end it was this charm offensive and the pageantry of the ceremony that the world remembered of the event.

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