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CAERNARFON CASTLE ENDURES AS A ROYAL SYMBOL.

The inscription on a roadside monument in mid-Wales reads, "Near this spot was killed our Prince Llewelyn 1282." It gives us no clue as to how he died, or why, or that his death changed the course of history. The story goes that Llewelyn, last of the Welsh rulers, was slain in a skirmish near Builth Wells by an English trooper who had no inkling of his victim's importance. When the body was identified as that of the Welsh prince its head was delivered to King Edward in London, a trophy of sorts telling that Wales' resistance was over.

The triumphant Edward lost no time in demonstrating he meant business in Wales. As a show of strength he commissioned the building of fortifications, particularly in the north where uprisings had been most frequent. At Beaumaris, Conwy, Caernarfon, and Harlech, massive castles began to reshape the landscape in a construction program so ambitious it wouldn't be finished in the king's lifetime.

Securing the land with military might was one thing. Winning over the Welsh people quite another. To this end, Edward and his Queen took up residence in Caernarfon Castle so their second child could be Welsh born. According to legend, he presented the infant son as "the native born Prince who could speak no English." Upon the death of his brother, the baby Edward became first in line for the throne, and at seven was created Prince of Wales. True he wasn't of Welsh blood, but he was a Prince, born and raised at Caernarfon, and that ensured him a place in Welsh hearts. Since then 20 have held the title Prince of Wales. None was born in Wales, and only the last two were crowned at Caernarfon.

Standing on the banks of the River Seoint and overlooking the Menai Strait, Caernarfon Castle has proportions that would intimidate the bravest foe.