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'WE BECAME CLOSE'

Anti-monarchist Welsh tutor depicted in The Crown reveals what it was really like teaching Prince Charles

PRINCE CHARLES wore a bullet-proof vest for his 1969 investiture as Prince of Wales. The coastal town of Caernarfon echoed to the sound of hovering helicopters and manhole covers being welded shut to stop terrorists hiding bombs inside them.

This was the fraught atmosphere as Charles tried to win over sceptical Welsh nationalists. His efforts to learn Welsh for the speech at Caernarfon Castle are among the key scenes in the third season of Netflix smash The Crown.

Dr Edward Millward recalls how he suddenly found himself at the heart of a headline-grabbing event
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Dr Edward Millward recalls how he suddenly found himself at the heart of a headline-grabbing event

First, Charles must win over Dr Edward “Tedi” Millward, his reluctant tutor at Aberystwyth University. Today, Tedi looks back on finding himself at the heart of the headlines.

Speaking to The Sun from his home near Aberystwyth, the 89-year-old says: "The police had me in their 'black book', so I was bit surprised when I was asked to teach him Welsh. Special Branch interviewed me very sternly before we started.

"I have to say, I'm not particularly proud of being his Welsh teacher. It was forced upon me. When I met him, I tried to be neutral. I treated him the same as any other student. It wasn't easy for him to be like any other student, as he'd pull up many days in a sports car. I wasn't in favour of him becoming Prince of Wales. And he knew it. "

In The Crown, Tedi, played by Mark Lewis Jones, is ordered by uni bosses to teach the 20-year-old royal, played by Josh O'Connor. He protests: "I'm a republican nationalist.

Prince Charles wore a ­bulletproof vest for his investiture as Prince of Wales
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Credit: Getty - Contributor Prince Charles wore a bulletproof vest for his investiture as Prince of Wales Credit: Getty-Contributor

"My feelings about the office of the Prince of Wales are that it's a princehood illegitimately imposed upon us by an oppressive imperial conquest. You can't make me do this. It would violate every belief in my body."

Eventually, Tedi gives in. But he refuses to bow or call the prince “Your Royal Highness”. On screen, Charles says: “You don't approve of me. You wish my role didn't exist, my family's. But Wales is Britain. Britain is Wales. Historically, we always fought together. Henry V at Agincourt... ”

Tedi replies: "Welshmen have historically bled for the conquests of your crown. And why, one might ask? For what? Look, I really didn't intend to joust with you. You're here to learn Welsh."

But when Charles doesn't seem to be taking his studies seriously, Tedi tears into him in a blistering scene.

The Crown suggests Charles used his investiture speech to deliver a veiled message about being the Prince of Wales
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Credit: PA:Press Association The Crown suggests Charles used his investiture speech to deliver a veiled message about being the Prince of Wales Credit: PA: Press Association

He rails: “I understand it's all a bit of fun for you. As your tutor, I'm going to ask you a favour. Pay us the respect and give just the slightest impression you care about any of this.” In real life , Tedi insists they never argued and the prince was studious — too much so for the liking of his neighbours in halls of residence.

Tedi says: "Charles wasn't popular with some students. They couldn't get to sleep at night with him practising. I was told they were annoyed because his voice echoed so much. He really worked quite hard.

"He started from nothing, so learning Welsh was difficult. I had a one-on-one tutorial with him every week. He was very enthusiastic and his accent ended up being quite good."

At first, Tedi couldn't believe he had been chosen to teach the Prince. He was an ardent nationalist and a senior figure in Plaid Cymru, which wants independence for Wales. Although he had taken part in protests, Tedi was not part of a violent nationalist fringe.

In The Crown, Tedi, now 89, is played by Welsh actor Mark Lewis Jones
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In The Crown, Tedi, now 89, is played by Welsh actor Mark Lewis Jones

On the day of the investiture, July 1, 1969, Alwyn Jones, 22, and George Taylor, 37, planned to bomb the Abergele train line on which Charles would travel. But they accidentally detonated the explosives and both men were killed.

Tedi was wary of being pictured with Charles in case it angered his countrymen. But he keeps a picture of himself at the blackboard taken during a session with Charles. He is writing “bore da”, Welsh for “good morning”.

Over time, Tedi warmed to Charles. He says: "In the end, I got on quite well with him and he was good to get to know. I found him intelligent and quite charming. We became quite close." In The Crown, Charles visits Tedi's wife Silvia and their son Andras at their home.

Sadly, the couple split up and Andras, who taught self-defence as an adult, died in 2016 aged 50. Tedi also had a daughter, Llio, who is now a singer and musician. She took her father to the set of The Crown during filming in Wales. The actor playing Tedi even wore some of his actual ties.

Although Tedi was one of the best Welsh teachers in the country, he still could n’t believe he ’d been chosen to teach the Prince
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Credit: PA:Press Association Although Tedi was one of the best Welsh teachers in the country, he still couldn't believe he'd been chosen to teach the Prince Credit: PA: Press Association

But Tedi says the scenes set at his home were made up, adding: "Silvia was not in favour of him. I would talk to her about him but we didn't ask him for tea."

In another invention by The Crown's writers, it is suggested Tedi met Silvia in the village of Capel Celyn, Gwynned, which was deliberately flooded to make a reservoir supplying England with water. Tedi says: "I don't know where they got that from . "

But the mention of Capel Celyn highlights why nationalists were so angry at the time. Some were hell-bent on stopping the investiture and when bombs started exploding, Prime Minister Harold

Wilson faced a tough decision. In the end, he decided the ceremony was too important to call off.

The Crown suggests Charles used his investiture speech to deliver a veiled message about his life, the role of the Royal Family and the position of Prince of Wales. Tedi believes Charles really did have mixed feelings about the role.

The Crown shows Tedi reluctantly teaching Prince Charles how to speak Welsh
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The Crown shows Tedi reluctantly teaching Prince Charles how to speak Welsh

He says: "While he was here, he talked quite openly about his status. I don't think he liked the thought of being Prince of Wales at that time."

In The Crown, Charles says: "If this union is to endure, we must learn to respect each other's differences. Nobody likes to be ignored, to not be seen or heard."

Adding his own words to the speech sent to him by the Government and Buckingham Palace would have been brave — particularly as Charles delivered the words to 4,000 invited guests and a global TV audience estimated at 500million.

In The Crown, Charles infuriates the Queen by going off-script. In reality, he did not comment anything like so explicitly. He did say: "It is my firm intention to associate myself in word and deed with as much of the life of the principality as possible. "

Tedi was invited to Prince Charles' investiture, but he refused to go
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Credit: PA:Press Association Tedi was invited to Prince Charles' investiture, but he refused to go Credit: PA: Press Association

That led the Government to fear he was “boosting Welsh nationalism”. For a while, Charles stayed true to his word. For many years, he stayed in touch with his language tutor. Tedi was invited to the prince's investiture and to Charles' wedding with Diana in 1981. But he politely declined on both occasions.

Tedi recalls: "We stayed in touch. He would ask me for advice if he had to make a speech in Welsh. And I met Diana quite a few times when she came to Wales. They didn't seem to get on at all. Charles also invited me to London on a number of occasions. But obviously, I never went. "

  • Season three of The Crown is on Netflix now.
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