Prince Charles pays tribute to Welsh tutor as Dr Tedi Millward dies aged 89

Rebecca Taylor
Royal Correspondent

Prince Charles has joined tributes to his former Welsh tutor, who has died at the age of 89.

Edward ‘Tedi’ Millward taught Charles the Welsh language before his investiture as the Prince of Wales more than 50 years ago.

The lessons were dramatised in series three of Netflix’s The Crown.

His daughter, London-based singer Llio Millward, confirmed his death on Facebook and paid tribute to him.

She said: “My beloved father was a deeply principled man who dedicated his life and his life’s work to Wales.

“He was a man of the highest integrity and a true gentleman in every sense.”

She said he was “self-effacing and modest” but “lived his whole life with great purpose and passion for Wales, the Welsh language and the people of Wales”.

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Recalling his lessons with the prince, his daughter wrote: “In 1969 Dad was asked to teach Prince Charles to speak Welsh and he accepted this role in the hope that it would be an opportunity to enlighten an important member of the English establishment about the plight of the language and the unique and valuable culture that the Welsh language is a part of.

“Dad has always said that during those private seminars Charles was a sensitive, intelligent and open-minded young man and I believe they developed a mutual respect for one another.

“This of course was dramatised on Netflix The Crown and I am grateful to the actor Mark Lewis Jones for the grace and gravitas he brought to his beautiful portrayal of my father.”

The professor was a staunch Welsh nationalist. (Llio Millward)

Prince Charles said: “I am deeply saddened to hear of Dr Millward’s death.

“I have very fond memories of my time in Aberystwyth with Dr Millward over 51 years ago.

“While I am afraid I might not have been the best student, I learned an immense amount from him about the Welsh language and about the history of Wales.

“After all these years, I am forever grateful to him for helping foster my deep and abiding love for Wales, her people and her culture.

“I send my most heartfelt sympathy to his family.”

Dr Millward, who worked at Aberystwyth University, was an unlikely choice for the prince’s tutor, as he was a staunch Welsh nationalist and against the investiture.

Prince Charles practising his Welsh in Aberystwyth. (PA Images)

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He was one of the founders of Welsh Language Society (Cymdeithas yr Iaith) which is credited with the right won in 1967 to make Welsh one of the country’s legal languages.

Writing in The Guardian in 2015, Dr Millward said: “The early 60s was the start of an upsurge in Welsh nationalism that saw the first Plaid Cymru politician elected to parliament – Gwynfor Evans, in 1966.

“By that point I was a well-known nationalist, so I was a little surprised when the university asked me if I would teach Welsh to Prince Charles, for a term, in 1969. This was ahead of his investiture as Prince of Wales in July.

“He had a one-on-one tutorial with me once a week. He was eager, and did a lot of talking. By the end, his accent was quite good. Toward the end of his term, he said good morning – ‘Bore da’ – to a woman at college; she turned to him and said: ‘I don’t speak Welsh!’ His presence caused a bit of a stir. Crowds would gather outside the college as he drove up in his sports car.”

In the Netflix series, the pair clash at the beginning, with Dr Millward openly frustrated by Charles’ failure to take the lessons seriously.

However they come to a mutual understanding, and the prince goes on to give a speech which has a thinly-veiled nationalist element.

The reality of the speech is that it was not quite so rebellious.

Dr Millward and his daughter Llio. (Llio Millward)
Tedi Millward was a well-known Welsh nationalist. (Llio Millward)

The show also depicted Charles having tea with Dr Millward and his wife Silvia, but it’s understood that had been made up.

Dr Millward was invited to the investiture and to Charles and Diana’s wedding but declined both invitations.

He did keep in touch with Charles and was asked for advice on Welsh translations over the years.

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Lewis Jones, who played Dr Millward, tweeted: “I had the absolute privilege to play this Welsh giant. His contribution to Wales and it’s language is immense. A great loss. RIP Tedi Millward.”

The Crown production company Left Bank Pictures tweeted: “He was a man of great learning and great principle. Diolch yn fawr [Thank you very much].”

Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru tweeted: “Plaid Cymru is sad to hear of the passing of Welsh giant Tedi Millward. A man driven by passion for Wales and Welsh language and culture, Tedi was a loyal member of Plaid Cymru and gave so much to Wales. We send our deepest condolences to his family.”

The Welsh Language Society (Cymdeithas yr Iaith) said: “Our sympathies are with the family of Dr Tedi Millward, one of the founders of the society who was at the forefront of Trefechan Bridge in 1963. He succeeded in turning a general concern for the language in the early sixties into purposeful, courageous action. All of us today stand on his shoulders.”