Luke Honey | Decorative Antiques, Chess, Backgammon & Games


March 27, 2019

A rare chance to snap up an Investiture chair in almost mint condition- unused, and in the original box, as ordered directly from the Ministry of Works in 1969. A label on the box gives assembly instructions in English and Welsh. Two previous owners. The chair comes in two sections, which fit away neatly inside the cardboard box. Original screws included.

Otherwise known as "The Red Chair", this chair was designed by Antony Armstrong-Jones (The Earl of Snowdon), the stage designer Carl Toms (1927-1999), and John Pound, principle design officer with the Supplies Division of the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works.

The chair was designed specifically for the four thousand guests invited to the Prince of Wales's Investiture at the Medieval Caernarfon Castle in July 1969. Millions of television viewers watched the twenty year old Prince receive his insignia from The Queen, conferring on him his new title as the twenty first Prince of Wales. Lord Snowdon, the Prince's uncle and Constable of the castle, was commissioned (along with Carl Toms and John Pound) to design the setting and furniture of the investiture. The resulting ceremony successfully reflected the supposed "antiquity" of the event, but with a simplified modernist twist- very much in tune with Sixties thinking: the investiture taking place under a huge Perspex canopy, a modern take on the hangings which might have been found, say, at a Medieval tournament.

For the Prince of Wales's Investiture, 4,600 chairs were made and sold for twelve pounds at the end of the day. Immediately after the ceremony, the chairs were dismantled and offered for sale. Invited guests had first refusal, with the remainder being sold to the public. Lord Snowdon bought six. The chair is made from Welsh beech, stained in vermillion, and consisting of a seat and back resting on a tiered stand. The Prince of Wales' feathers motto (Ich Dien) is indented in gilt (rather than painted) to the chair back, a successful attempt to reduce wear. The seat is padded with foam and upholstered with a simple red Welsh tweed. It was imperative that the chairs could withstand rain, and that no colour came off on the guests' clothes.