“The demands on a Prince of Wales have changed,” Charles, 20, said at his investiture at Caernarfon in 1969, with some trepidation. “But I am determined to serve and do my best to meet those demands, whatever they may be in a rather uncertain future.”

Half a century later, that future is certain: William has become the new Prince of Wales. The demands of the role are far greater than when Charles spoke in North Wales around 50 years ago. And every modern Prince of Wales faces a dilemma: how to manage the Crown’s complicated relationship with the Welsh.

Charles established a high bar for half a century. As well as becoming a patron of Welsh charities and institutions, he has assembled a team of expert advisers to help show off his Cymrophile credentials. Comparatively few of his predecessors were interested in the country. None had Charles’s passion for the Welsh language, landscape and poetry, his recognition of the country’s rich specificity and his understanding of the tension associated with his own role. In a speech to celebrate the renaming of the Prince of Wales Bridge in 2018, for example, he expressed his hope that the crossing would bring to mind all those who bore the former title Tywysogion Cymru, the rulers of Wales, including native princes. of medieval times.

It was a clever way to confront the ghosts of the past. Many Welsh are haunted by the disappearance of the last native prince, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, and by the spirit of Owain Glyndŵr, who led a war of independence against the English. So much so that there is a glimmer of hope that the title will one day be dropped. When the question of royal succession has arisen in recent years, nationalists and public figures such as actor Michael Sheen have tried to remind their compatriots that the British heir is known only as Prince of Wales because Edward I wished to “humiliate” the Welsh after his conquest.

These are valid and salient arguments. But history goes too far back – into the thick fog of medieval Britain – to agitate the Welsh as revolutionary republicans. Instead, it’s a cause that remains mostly confined to the intellectual and Welsh middle classes. For most people, the celebrity symbolism of the royal family, and especially young royals, is more appealing – even if pomp and ceremony sit awkwardly alongside the history of heavy industry and nationwide Chartist protest.

Wales has changed a lot since 1969. There is a new confidence in the state and public institutions, with the Senedd and Welsh government carrying the aspirations of a democratic nation. Devolution has been accompanied by close co-operation between Labor and Plaid Cymru, who share an almost identical socialist and nationalist political agenda, which includes regulation of second homes, support for the Welsh language and an active redistributive role for the ‘State.

The new Prince of Wales will have to navigate this uncharted territory. Lord Elis-Thomas, former Speaker of the Senedd and friend of the King, claimed this week that Wales had no real ‘need’ for a princely title which lacks constitutional basis and jars with the democratic objective of devolution. In this political context, the question of how the new Prince and Princess of Wales approach their roles is important for the Royal Family themselves as debates swirl over the future of the UK.

Prince William is well aware of Welsh nationality, having spent the early years of his marriage at Ynys Môn. The political class will also understand the need to be pragmatic in the face of popular royalty. Mark Drakeford, a longtime Republican, pointed this out when he released a statement saying his government was looking forward to “deepen” its relationship with the new prince and princess. And while there are challenges ahead for the new Prince of Wales, there are also opportunities for William to go further than his father in tackling Welsh issues.

For starters, Charles’ home in central Wales, Llwynywermod, is set to become a more permanent base for William, and used to tour the country beyond the annual “Wales Week” events in July. The royal presence in the Welsh Parliament, with the Queen highly visible over the past two decades, should be a responsibility entrusted to William and Kate. Elis-Thomas was also right a few years ago when he claimed Wales weren’t using their prince to reach a global audience. Now is the time to address this, in line with Wales’ position as a partially self-governing nation.

The more pressing question is whether Wales should host an impressive investiture for the new prince. A staggering Beaufort Research poll in 2021 found almost two-thirds of the Welsh public supported a public ceremony. I wonder how courtiers – who will no doubt be considering an investiture in the first two years of the king’s reign – view the risk-reward balance. It is possible that some in Wales will protest the new title leading to a PR disaster. The King’s advisers will be aware that the cost of living crisis will make any extravagant ceremony difficult to justify.

Timing and choreography had to be carefully managed. There is no David Lloyd George – the ultimate showman – to hold the ceremonies, which the ‘Welsh Wizard’ so skillfully did behind the scenes in 1911 for the future Edward VIII. But a national celebration of the new Prince and Princess of Wales, with a prominent place given to national leaders and an emphasis on Welsh (and in particular the language) could be a clever way to unite a majority of the public. behind the monarchy after the Elizabethan age.

Commentators frequently refer to the contract the monarch has with his people, across the UK and the Commonwealth. The same goes for the Prince of Wales. For centuries the Royal Family did not bother to engage or appease the conquered Welsh, but changing times demanded a pragmatic, visible and pro-Wales Tywysog Cymru. Charles was all three. He told Caernarfon all those years ago that Wales must “look to the future without abandoning the traditions and essential aspects of its past”. To earn the trust and respect of the Welsh people, the new Prince of Wales will have to share his own vision with the public. And then make yourself useful.