Remembering 1969 - Part 2

It was not easy to maintain journalistic balance within such an atmosphere. In George Thomas's opinion, there was no such thing as objectivity within Welsh-language publications.

The Welsh language press was both bitter and malicious. Even the so-called religious press became political, and included regular personal attacks on me... there were some people in nonconformist Wales who had replaced the worship of God Almighty with worship of the language.

George Thomas
George Thomas

Mr Thomas had obviously not read the Herald Cymraeg, which was as loyal to the crown as any English publication. Every week the Caernarfon paper would give pride of place on its back page - only adverts were allowed on the front page in those days - to some aspect of the investiture preparations. It announced that the Town Council had decided to spend £14,300 on enhancing the square for the big day, and would be contributing £1,700 towards floodlighting the castle. "Pa wisg fydd gan y Tywysog?" [What dress will the Prince be wearing?] surmised another headline. There were weeks of complaints about a BBC 24 Hours programme that was accused of "giving the impression that people aound these parts are against the investiture". According to one councillor nobody from the town had been allowed to express an opinion, whereas opponents had been dragged before the camera from as far afield as "Trefor, Nefyn, and even Anglesey".

Not one of the dissenting voices found their way to the pages of the Herald, even when a thousand people gathered on the square for an anti-investiture rally on the St David's day before the event. It was a worrying day for the paper when Dafydd Iwan's satirical song Carlo deposed Amen Corner, Englebert Humperdinck and Hogia'r Wyddfa to reach number one in the charts in Caernarfon of all places. "A record that nobody should buy" proclaimed the headline, ensuring its reign at the top for several weeks.

Contrary to George Thomas's interpretation, Y Cymro had made some attempt at balancing conflicting views. At the end of February '69, after I had been offered a job on the paper, the whole of the front page was devoted to a story written especially by Francis Jones, Wales Herald Extraordinary, under the headline Tywysog o dras Llywelyn daw hef yd o linach glyndŵr [A Prince in the pedigree of Llywelyn - he is also descended from Glyndŵr] .

Rhyfedd meddwl," meddai'r gŵr a fu'n hel achau, "bod un o ddisgynyddion Owain yn eistedd ar orsedd Prydain Fawr ac mai ei mab a fydd yn cael ei arwisgo yng Nghaernarfon yr haf nesaf... Drwy ei linach mae'r Tywysog Charles yn gystal Cymru a'r un ohonom. Pan ddaw i Gymru daw o wlad ei dadau.

[It is strange to think that a descendant of Owain Glyndŵr is sitting on the throne of Great Britain and that her son is to be invested in Caernarfon next summer... Through his lineage Prince Charles is as good a Welshman as any of us. When he comes to Wales he will be coming to the land of his fathers]


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