The King's commitment to crafts and skills

03 May 2023

When City & Guilds was formed in 1878 it was with royal support and with crafts at its heart and after 145 years this is still as true as ever. With the coronation at the front of peoples’ minds it’s the perfect time to reflect on the strong commitment to crafts and skills development that the monarchy has demonstrated over the years.

One of the clearest showcases of The Royal Family’s commitment to growth through skills development is the work being done at Dumfries House in Scotland. In order to help reinvigorate the local economy following the closure of mines, Dumfries House was opened up to the public with the support of the Prince’s Foundation and thousands of free courses offered to local people.

These courses have created new opportunities for people from all walks of life, while producing an incredibly high-quality experience, from the craftsmanship involved in its renovation to the service from hospitality employees. At City & Guilds we’re honoured to have been asked to offer certification for these courses, helping to support the growth of those training at Dumfries House.

The first ever cohort that completed a City & Guilds qualification at Dumfries House were members of the Dumfries House Sewing Bee, a group dedicated to developing sewing skills. This moment was made even more special by the attendance of the then Prince of Wales, now King Charles III and The Princess Royal who presented the certificates, showing once again their passion for supporting the creation of learning opportunities.

This commitment to the development of skills is something that has always been especially close to King Charles III’s heart, as demonstrated by the launch of The Prince’s Trust in 1976 to deliver training and support for disadvantaged young people in the UK. The importance he has placed on vocational learning and training outside of the classroom has never waned and this is something that will remain key through the coronation and beyond. As Princess Anne reassuringly said: ‘Well, you know what you’re getting because he’s been practising for a bit, and I don’t think he’ll change. He is committed to his own level of service, and that will remain true.’

The coronation celebrations are an opportunity to put traditional skills developed through specialist training centre-stage. Crafts and growth opportunities for those who might not have had access to them look certain to remain a priority for The King following his change of role, as they were during his time as The Prince of Wales.

Craftsmanship that has been practiced for hundreds of years has been combined with modern knowledge to prepare for the ceremonies. A new carriage has been built to take part in the procession and horses will be dressed by people who have honed their skills based on wisdom passed down through generations of saddlers. 

These are people who take pride in the service they are providing and on whom there is an expectation of excellence that requires dedicated training, often over many years. We’re proud to be able to say that there are City & Guilds certificates on the walls of the Royal Mews, a visual indication of the work and learning that has been put in by many members of staff.

The coronation is one day where the eyes of the world will be on the Royal Family and whether people realise it or not, the dedication to skills development that has always been a key part of King Charles III’s public work. While the celebrations will only last for a short time, these priorities will remain, continuing a proud family tradition of honouring and valuing the traditional skills that are still so relevant today.