The Eagle Tower, with its three great turrets and 18-feet thick walls, is the crowning glory of Caernarfon Castle. It was here that the most illustrious residents of the royal palace would sleep in lofty splendour.
When King Edward I and his queen Eleanor first came to Caernarfon in the summer of 1283 it was barely a gleam in the eye of architect Master James of St George. They bedded down in timber-framed apartments in the middle of a building site instead.
When they returned the following Easter the queen was heavily pregnant. This time the tower, although far short of its final soaring height, was ready for them.
On 25th April 1284 Eleanor gave birth not just to a son, Edward of Caernarfon, but to a new royal dynasty. In 1301 he was presented to the Welsh nobility as a prince ‘that was borne in Wales and could speak never a word of English’.
The truth was that he was the very first English Prince of Wales – and all the money from the Crown’s Welsh lands was now his. It was a bitter pill to swallow for the newly conquered nation.
The birthplace of the royal prince, later to become Edward II, was probably no accident. Right from the beginning Caernarfon Castle had been singled out for greatness. Its imperial ambition and epic scale made it a fitting home for the king’s representative in Wales.
For the last 700 years the title Prince of Wales has traditionally been taken by the eldest son of the reigning monarch. But it wasn’t until 1911 that Caernarfon again played a central role by hosting the investiture of Prince Edward. All thanks to Britain’s only Welsh prime minister so far, David Lloyd George.
Most famously it was here in 1969 that Prince Charles was invested – the eroded statue of Edward II no doubt looking on in approval from its niche above the King’s Gate.