The decision of the Queen of England to cancel her visit to Wales on May 31st 1996 is both a further humiliation to the Crown and also to the British Intelligence Services charged with the Queen’s protection.
The English queen was in Wales to open an £11 million extension to the National Library of Wales and was scheduled to follow this with a schedule which included a visit to the University of Aberystwyth to meet staff and students at the Institute of Earth Studies.
The routine visit started to fall apart at an early stage when, as the Royal party’s motorcade approached the National Library, demonstrators vaulted barriers and tried to storm the vehicle which was forced to take evasive action. Five demonstrators were detained.
Later, as several hundred students gathered at the University Campus, a decision was taken to end the visit.
The dramatic decision to cancel engagements, taken on security grounds, indicates that both the Queen’s advisors and also the intelligence services, who normally carry out preparatory work ahead of such visits, were caught totally unprepared. This is likely to be particularly embarrassing to the British security services who have been attempting to define a new post cold-war role for themselves. Basic indicators seem to have been totally ignored in that, at a time that there is a growing tide of anti-monarchist opinion in England, it does not seem to have registered that the substantial body of republican nationalist opinion in the Celtic areas has also increased.
The United Kingdom media are already attempting to pass off what is undoubtedly a deep humiliation as being linked to a single issue. The students were described as “language activists demonstrating in support of the Welsh language”. It was clear, however, from the few who chose to be interviewed in English that the demonstration was an expression of contempt for the “English Monarchy”. One interviewee almost spat out the words “she is not our Queen”. It’s clear that even Elizabeth Windsor herself is now aware of that.
The fall out from the visit is likely to be even more security paranoia when the Queen or other royals visit the Celtic areas. The English take their Queen seriously – now they realise some of the Celtic people take their opposition to the Queen more seriously!