The Prince and Princess of Wales recently visited the Aberfan Memorial Garden to pay their respects to those who tragically lost their lives during the Aberfan disaster. The couple was led through the memorial garden to honor the 144 lives lost, including 116 children, during the coal-tip landslide on 21 October 1966.
The Aberfan Memorial Garden is built on the site of the former Pantglas Primary School, which was engulfed by the landslide at 9:13 am on October 21, 1966. The disaster occurred just as lessons had begun, and the memorial garden serves as a reminder of the tragedy that struck the village.
During their visit, the Prince and Princess of Wales were guided around the memorial garden by Aberfan survivor David Davies and Professor Peter Vaughan, Lord Lieutenant of Mid Glamorgan. The couple also met trustees from the Aberfan Memorial Trust who ensure the maintenance of the garden. Additionally, they met with members of the Aberfan Wives group who lost relatives in the disaster.
The late Queen Elizabeth II and the late Duke of Edinburgh visited the village on 29 October 1966, just over a week after the tragedy, to pay their respects. Her Majesty opened the Aberfan Memorial Garden in 1974, and it remains a significant part of the village's history. The queen's decision not to visit sooner was said to have been one of the greatest regrets of her reign.
Gareth Jones, a disaster survivor, shared his experience with the Prince and Princess of Wales during their visit. Jones crawled out of a window of the school as his classmates were buried alive by the landslide. He spoke to Kate and William about the effect on families in the aftermath of the disaster. He also expressed his appreciation for the support of the royal family, saying that there is a special bond between the royal family and the village.
The couple's visit was not without light-hearted moments. During their time in the memorial garden, a one-year-old boy named Daniel grabbed Kate's handbag, leaving her in giggles. The little boy played with the bag for several minutes before Kate retrieved it. It was a memorable encounter for the family, and Daniel's mother-in-law described it as “priceless – something to remember.”
The Prince and Princess of Wales also had other engagements during their visit to South Wales Valleys and Mid Wales. They tried their hand at abseiling and treated volunteers to pizzas from the Little Dragon Pizza Van. Overall, the royal couple's visit to the Aberfan Memorial Garden was a touching tribute to those who lost their lives during the Aberfan disaster, and it highlights the importance of preserving the memory of tragic events in history.