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My arresting experience the day Prince Charles came to town

I walked across the green to Swansea Guildhall, where Prince Charles was visiting.

It was July 1969, and the English-born eldest son of Elizabeth Windsor had just been through his fairytale investiture to become “Prince of Wales”. Which is all very well if you’re daft enough to believe in fairies or the monarchy.

I’d been sitting with a couple of mates in Joe’s Ice Cream Bar on St Helen’s Road as we grumbled into our coffees about The German Oaf (a common Welsh insult for HRH), repeating the often used phrase “a fanfare for a prince is a fart in the face for the people”.

As part of his Wales tour and the ceremonials after the investiture,  Charles was at the Guildhall where he’d very generously declared Swansea to be a city.

Then suddenly I was windmilling, my legs in midair as I was being well and truly lifted by a couple of burly cops and shoved in the back of their patrol car and was back outside Joe’s Ice Cream Parlour.

“Am I nicked?” I asked.

“No. We’re just keeping you out of the way like, until Charles leaves town. So sit quietly and be a good boy, then.”

They weren’t Special Branch, just a couple of Rhondda cops seconded to the Royal Protection Squad for the night. An hour passed. I needed a pint.

“Fancy a drink?” I chanced to the bored twosome at the front.

“Shut up!”

Silence. They were just as much imprisoned and bored in the car as I was. And they knew it.

Thirty minutes passed. “Fancy a pint?” I chanced again.

They looked at each other.

“Where?” one of them asked.

“I dunno. Out of town somewhere.”

Cop No2 grabbed me by the neck: “If you fuck us about I’ll fucking kill you!”

“Fair enough” I replied. And we drove off.

The cops couldn’t be arsed to drive out of town, so we stopped at the Cross Keys, off Wind Street. I was still handcuffed to one of them.

“We can’t go in the fucking pub in handcuffs” I pleaded.

Handcuffs off and another threat to be on good behaviour. Two pints later it was my round.

“I ain’t buying cops a fucking drink.” They laughed. We were rabbiting on about Wales playing rugby against England. Six more pints flowed. They glanced at their watches.

It was well past Charles leaving town by now. But we were getting on like a house on fire. Two more pints. Off they went, waving promises to meet up when I was badge-selling for Class War or other good causes outside the Arms Park.

I staggered home to Townhill. Two hours later there was a knock at the door: some Welsh republican friends had seen me get lifted.

They were concerned. “Did the cops beat you up?” they asked.

“Not exactly,” I slurred.

Ian Bone

Ian Bone’s ‘Bash the Rich’ can be purchased here.

Image: Leutha, CC BY-SA 3.0

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