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Controversy over bridge renamed in honour of the Prince of Wales

The Second Severn Crossing which links England and Wales is now the Prince of Wales Bridge.

A maintenance worker holds up a sign for the Prince of Wales Bridge (Andrew Matthews/PA)
A maintenance worker holds up a sign for the Prince of Wales Bridge (Andrew Matthews/PA)

It was a controversial move, but the signs are now up in place on the Prince of Wales Bridge.

The Second Severn Crossing was renamed in honour of the heir to the throne last year.

The 23-year-old structure links England to Wales by extending the M4 across the Severn estuary and the new road signs were erected just a few weeks ago.

Renamed in the Prince of Wales’ honour to mark his 70th birthday last year, the move also celebrated 60 years since Charles was first given the title the Prince of Wales in 1958, as well the 50th anniversary of his 1969 investiture.

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The Prince of Wales Bridge, previously known as the Second Severn Crossing (Ben Birchall/PA)

Announcing the name change, Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns described it as a “fitting tribute” to Charles’ “decades of continued, dedicated service to our nation”.

Yet not everyone was happy about it.

Plaid Cymru’s then-leader Leanne Wood tweeted: “Is this a late April fool joke?”, while Labour’s Jo Stevens, MP for Cardiff Central, accused Mr Cairns of “wasting time on PR projects”.

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The Prince of Wales with Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns on the bridge (Wales Office/PA)

There was also criticism over the lack of public consultation on the decision, which was approved by the Queen and Prime Minister Theresa May.

A petition on Change.org, entitled ‘Stop the renaming of the second Severn Crossing to the Prince of Wales Bridge’, attracted more than 38,000 signatures.

Jamie Matthews, who started the online protest, wrote: “Let’s name the bridge after someone who has achieved something for our nation. Let’s consult the people before renaming it unilaterally.”

The Second Severn Crossing was inaugurated by Charles in 1996 and he attended the renaming ceremony there in July 2018.

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Charles cutting a tape on the English side to officially open the Second Severn Crossing in 1996 (Barry Batchelor/PA)

Tolls on the bridge, now in public ownership, were abolished for all vehicles at the end of last year.

As the new name signs appeared without fanfare in May, some Twitter users criticised their size and their symbolism, branding them “ridiculous”.

Novelist and broadcaster Gary Raymond wrote in the Wales Art Review that the “enormous sign…spits triumphantly in the faces of every driver and passenger of all that it symbolises.

“Wales belongs to the English crown. You are now entering the land of subservient subjects.”

Calling for a campaign for Welsh Independence, he added: “This is an English bridge, run by an English roads department, and it seems the only way to get the name of our country off that bridge, (and then off the name of the Duke of Cornwall), is to release us from the oversight of Westminster.”

PA

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