Mark Drakeford defends people's right to protest against King Charles' visit to Wales

The Welsh First Minister has defended the right of protest against the visit of King Charles to Wales. Credit: PA Images

The First Minister has defended the right to protest against the visit of King Charles to Wales, but said any anti-royal demonstrations would be a "footnote" to the proceedings.

Mark Drakeford has also said the investiture proceedings for Prince William, the new Prince of Wales, does not need to follow the same form as that of the 1969 ceremony which saw the title given to his father.

Charles III is returning to the country on Friday as its monarch after serving for 64 years as the Prince of Wales.

The King and Queen Consort are first heading to Llandaff Cathedral, then to the Senedd, and lastly on to Cardiff Castle.

Ahead of the visit, Mr Drakeford told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that now is not the time for objections and debate around the monarchy "to surface".

But he added: "People have a legitimate right to protest and there are a variety of views.

"People have that right and I think it will be exercised with restraint and it will be a footnote to the dominant feelings of the day."

The investiture of Charles as the Prince of Wales in 1969 performed by his mother, the Queen. Credit: PA Images

Mr Drakeford said he has confidence that police will deal with protests in a "proportionate" way, amid questions about the handling of demonstrators in other parts of the UK.

He said: "It should be proportionate. It should recognise the rights that people have.

"I have every confidence in South Wales Police, who have dealt with this sort of event many times very successfully."

Mr Drakeford also indicated he does not expect the new Prince of Wales to follow in the footsteps of his father and learn Welsh.

He said "nobody will be expecting miracles" from William on the language, admitting it can be a "challenge" to learn as an adult.

"The language is a very important part of Wales, spoken by thousands of people every day as part of their everyday lives," he said.

"It's not necessarily the easiest language to acquire later on.

"The incoming Prince of Wales will want to recognise the importance of the Welsh language and the part it plays in shaping the identity of a contemporary Wales."

He said Welsh people will understand and "appreciate" any interest in the language shown by William.

"I don't think anybody will expect somebody to have a suddenly acquired fluency in the Welsh language," he added. "Nobody will be expecting miracles."

Mr Drakeford has already spoken with the new Prince of Wales, but said the investiture proceedings were not directly discussed.

"The Wales of 2022 is very different to the Wales of 1969," he said.

"I don't think looking back at that event and thinking of it as some sort of pattern that you would wish to pick up and copy, I don't think that would be the right way to go about things.

"I think the new Prince of Wales will want to take time to establish himself in that role, to work out where he can make the most contribution to creating a successful Wales of the future."

Of his conversation with Prince William, Mr Drakeford said: "He did say to me that he wanted to take on his new responsibilities slowly, that he wanted to give time for his own knowledge of Wales, the things that matter in the Wales of today, to be fully established, for him to think about where his own contribution could most powerfully be made.

"I thought that was very sensible as an approach."