By Iago ap Steffan.
I was asked to write this article on why I had started the petition on change.org, “Keep our national stadium as the Millennium Stadium, we are not a Principality! Cadwch ein stadiwm genedlaethol yn Stadiwm y Mileniwm, nid ydym yn dywysogaeth” https://www.change.org/p/welsh-rugby-union-wru-principality-building-society-keep-our-national-stadium-as-the-millennium-stadium-we-are-not-a-principality. The simple reason I created this petition was really just down to the proposed name.
Like many people who have signed (1,160 so far), and those that have signed the ‘Plaid Ifanc Youth’ petition of the same cause (1,550), the fans are most upset about losing the ‘Millennium Stadium’ name and replacing it with the ‘Principality Stadium’. Many of us understand that there is a financial benefit to the WRU, the rugby regions and grassroots rugby due to this deal with the Principality Building Society. The majority of us are thankful that they have joined up with a Welsh company rather than opting for a global brand with no links to our great nation. Let me explain the situation.
The Millennium Stadium replaced the old National Stadium, on the old Cardiff Arms Park. The National Stadium was demolished in 1997 and the Millennium Stadium was built in time to host the Wales Rugby World Cup in 1999, the turn of the millennium. The name holds a place in many of our hearts due to this; we may have hosted World Cup matches previously, but we were the hosts in 1999. Since then we have held matches for the France Rugby World Cup in 2007 and we have been awarded matches for this year’s England Rugby World Cup.
We can safely say that the Millennium Stadium is not just a household name in Wales and for Rugby Union, but is known around the world and for holding other big events. From Australians to Scottish; English to Argentinians we have a global brand that showcases this great tiny nation. It has held great events such as the Tsunami Concert in 2005 (in aid of the quarter of a million people killed by the Indian Ocean tsunami); it holds the Speedway motorcycling event; hosted the Wales Rally GB; held Rugby League World Cup matches; boxing; cricket; was a venue for the 2012 Olympics; it has also been used as a set for Doctor Who and the film 28 Days Later; and has hosted concerts for Stereophonics, Manic Street Preachers, Bon Jovi, Tina Turner, U2, Madonna, The Rolling Stones and even One Direction.
Changing its name will only harm this global brand and upset many of its avid supporters: the Welsh public. Some say “it is just a name” and to “stop whinging” and I appreciate the comments, but the new proposed name will knock the image of Wales back to Tudor times! Here’s why. Wales is not a Principality; a Principality is a state that is ruled by a Prince. The ‘Prince of Wales’ (currently Charles Windsor) is only a title given to those who are heir to the English throne. We have not had a native ruling Prince of Wales since ‘officially’ 1282 (Llywelyn ap Gruffudd) and ‘unofficially’ around 1415 (Owain Glyndŵr) and the official term ‘Principality’ had disappeared after the Acts of Incorporation 1536 & 1543 under Henry VIII to incorporate Wales into the Kingdom of England. Henry VII, his father, may have been a Welsh King on the English throne, but Henry VIII despised Wales and wanted Wales unified completely with England – laws, administration, culture and even language.
To many of us the term ‘Principality’ is demoralising and insulting. The history of Wales is a sad one, where our rulers were killed by English forces; the areas within our town walls could only be populated by the English, whilst Welsh people had to live outside; our nation was conquered by our larger and more powerful neighbour; our language was laughed at and ridiculed so much so that we were seen as backward and certain jobs could only be given to English speakers at a time where almost everyone in Wales spoke Welsh. This is not a Wales we see today. We do not see a defeated nation, we see a proud one. We are no longer a Principality subjected to the English crown, we have a democracy with our own National Assembly for Wales, soon to be Welsh Parliament, and National institutions such as the National Library and National Museum; but we also have the national stadium where fellow Cymry – countrymen and countrywomen – sing our National Anthem with pride and zeal; cheering our National Team onto the field at the best stadium in the world, the Millennium Stadium.
So your verdict? Should we allow a financial institution (Principality Building Society), that yes is Welsh and is providing necessary funding, but that is reluctant to change its own medieval name to one suitable to today’s Wales, whilst forcing us to accept the change of our national modern-named stadium built at the turn of this millennium? We can put the pressure on; they must consult the fans since it’s ‘our’ stadium?
St. James’ Park (stadium) in Newcastle was almost called Sports Direct Arena, but this was dropped for sportsdirect.com @ St. James’ Park after pressure from the fans. Next door to the Millennium Stadium the rugby ground has kept its name: ‘BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park’. I’m not saying we should not use ‘Principality’ at all, but I do believe consultation with the fans is a must. We have to campaign to the two governing boards and I hope you can join me by signing the petition to show both the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and the Principality Building Society that Welsh fans everywhere want to keep the name ‘The Millennium Stadium – Stadiwm y Mileniwm’.
Iago ap Steffan lives in Caerffili but is originally from Caerdydd. He holds a BA (Hons) in Politics and Welsh History from Aberystywth Univeristy and a Master’s Degree in Welsh Governance and Politics from Cardiff University. He currently works as an Administrator/ Caseworker for an Assembly Member. He is a Party of Wales – Plaid Cymru Town Councillor in Pontypridd representing the Hawthorn ward.