The Prince of Wales is seventy-one tomorrow, which means it is fifty years since he became Prince of Wales.
We watched the investiture ceremony on the television at our primary school. The television could have been a prop from one of those 1960s science fiction series. At the base of the stand, there a rectangle of tubular metal with a wheel at each of its four corners. From each of the corners there rose metal legs which disappeared into a box at the top that was the colour of light wood, although whether it was wood, I never discovered; only certain pupils were allowed to push it from one room to another.
There always seemed a great sense of ceremony in the television being moved; perhaps it was unstable and the funereal pace at which it was moved reflected a concern for personal safety, perhaps there was concern that any damage would cost a huge amount of money, perhaps it was simply a matter of fear and trepidation at the possible consequences of not doing as one was told. Once the manoeuvres had been completed, the double doors at the front of the box were opened and the power was turned on.
Our television was black and white, but for a school of forty pupils in the 1960s, it constituted a major item of expenditure. It was moved backwards and forwards between our two classrooms to allow different age groups to watch particular programmes. Both BBC and ITV had excellent schools programmes for television; one of them had a clock that counted down the minute before the programme started. Except for “Picture Box”, I don’t remember the names of the programmes. There was no question of watching anything else on the television, for the simple fact that there was nothing else to watch. As soon as the schools transmission was over, the channels reverted to the test card.
However, if there were to be a major event, the BBC would cover it and Miss Rabbage would let us watch. On 1st July 1969, we got off lightly with school work, the television was turned on and we watched the investiture of Charles as Prince of Wales live from Carnarfon Castle. None of us knew what an investiture was, but it was a lot better than arithmetic and Charles Kingsley.
Looking now at pictures of the investiture in colour, a polychromatic Charles looks much younger than the black and white images that I remember.
Fifty years afterward, I wonder what remembers of the day in the summer of 1969 when he got forty rustic kids off schoolwork.