Speech by HRH The Prince of Wales on the 50th Anniversary of the Aberfan Disaster
21 October 2016
Foneddigion a boneddigesau. Anyone who is old enough can remember where they were when they heard the appalling news about the Aberfan disaster. I was at school in Scotland, having just returned from a period at school in Australia, and I can never forget the feeling of utter despair as I heard of the unspeakable tragedy that had befallen your community.
Over the years, I have learned more of the heartbreak and the hardships you experienced, and of the extraordinary dignity with which you faced them.
Aberfan showed the world the darkest sorrow, but also the most shining selflessness: a spirit which endured not just for the time of crisis, but for a lifetime.
No one should have to bear the losses you suffered. But no one could have borne those losses with greater strength or greater courage.
The motto of Merthyr Tydfil is “nid cadarn ond brodyrdde”, sometimes translated as “not force, but fellowship”. In that spirit, through all you have endured, you have borne witness to the world that even the greatest loss cannot triumph over love.
The Queen wanted very much to send you a personal message on this day and has asked me to say these words to you on her behalf:
“As you come together as a community today to mark fifty years since the dreadful events of Friday, 21st October 1966, I want you to know that you are in my own and my family’s thoughts, as well as the thoughts of the nation.
We will all be thinking about the 144 people who died – most of them children between the ages of seven and ten – and the hundreds more who have lived with the shock and grief of that day, summed up by one poet who said simply, ‘All the elements of tragedy are here.’
I well remember my own visit with Prince Philip after the disaster, and the posy I was given by a young girl, which bore the heart-breaking inscription, ‘From the remaining children of Aberfan.’
Since then, we have returned on several occasions and have always been deeply impressed by the remarkable fortitude, dignity and indomitable spirit that characterises the people of this village and the surrounding valleys.
On this saddest of anniversaries, I send my renewed good wishes to you all.