Page last updated at 16:30 GMT, Thursday, 9 October 2008 17:30 UK

Call to 'redefine' prince's role

Prince Charles at his investiture in 1969
The investiture of Prince Charles in 1969 was a grand affair

The role of the Prince of Wales should be redefined, according to the Welsh assembly's presiding officer.

Dafydd Elis-Thomas questioned whether the Prince of Wales title was relevant to the "constitutional development" of 21st Century Wales.

He also said there should never again be an investiture ceremony like the grand one for Prince Charles at Caernarfon Castle in 1969.

But a historian has said a future event could bring global attention to Wales.

In an interview for BBC Wales' Dragon's Eye, Lord Elis-Thomas praised Prince Charles as "Cymrophile" but said "all constitutional conventions require a bit of refurbishment and re-examination".

He said he would argue that the title of the Prince of Wales was no longer relevant to the constitutional development of Wales in the 21st Century "...because the constitutional development has shifted to Wales' own institutions and obviously to the first minister and to devolved government in the National Assembly itself," he said.

"I haven't discussed this directly with the Royal Family and it's not my place to do that but if they were to ask me what should happen I would say that the role of the prince needs to be redefined if that title is to be continued."

I don't think people want bread and circuses in the serious time we are now in
Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas

He said the issue was not one that should be decided now but would be considered when appropriate.

Lord Elis-Thomas has been part of discussions with the offices of the First Minister and Clarence House about how to mark the 40th anniversary of the prince's investiture.

Political stunt

The prince's staff said there were no plans at present to mark that event, and it was too early to say whether there would be another investiture.

Lord Elis-Thomas said the pomp and ceremony seen at the investiture in 1969 should be not be repeated if there was to be an investiture of Prince William.

He said past investitures had been used as political stunts.

Conservative AM Andrew RT Davies argues in favour of future investitures

"I think the days of such stunts are over," he said.

Lord Elis-Thomas said the monarchy had changed, events had changed and Wales had changed, and it would not be appropriate to "mimic" the investitures of 1911 and 1969.

But John Ellis, associate professor of British history at the University of Michigan, Flint, who has written a book on the 1911 and 1969 investitures, said the latter event was the most globally recognised event in Welsh history with television coverage across the world.

"This was a huge event, that projected Wales across the world. Wales hasn't had a very high-profile image and I do think it did succeed in that aspect," he said.

He added there were risks attached to any future investiture, but said he could imagine it as an opportunity to promote Wales like in 1969 particularly with the worldwide media attention Prince William attracts.

"I can definitely see how events like the investiture could put Wales back on the map like in 1969 but I do think it would invite a certain amount of controversy and debate," he added.

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