First Minister Mark Drakeford’s government in Cardiff announced at the beginning of May that schools would have to “opt-in” to receive the Platinum Jubilee book because it was deemed too ‘Anglocentric’. But now an answer to a question by Welsh Conservative leader Andrew R. T. Davies has revealed Mr Drakeford’s government consulted one historian – Dr Elin Jones, an education officer at the National Museum of Wales – who objected that a book about the Queen’s reign did not discuss ancient British history.
In a letter to Mr Davies, Welsh Labour education minister Jeremy Miles said: “Dr Elin Jones provided Welsh Government with an unpaid independent opinion on the content of the book.
“The advice from Dr Jones was that she felt its failure to address the early history of Britain, so as to explain the reasons for the existence of the indigenous languages and cultures of Britain, was a basic flaw in this book.
“This was exacerbated by the lack of reference to – let alone celebration of – these languages and cultures today. Concerns were also raised about the old-fashioned interpretation of English history and the lack of historical awareness.”
He added: “Dr Jones also felt the book did not support the Welsh Government’s Welsh language policy and undermines the efforts being made to develop an inclusive approach to culture in Wales.”
Mr Davies said the Welsh Government policy and reasoning was “an unnecessary insult to the Queen in her Jubilee year”.
He went on: “It’s sad that Labour, weeks before Her Majesty’s 70th Jubilee, have overcomplicated a simple way of sharing the story of her world-beating rule with our children.
“This woke justification won’t land well with the people of Wales who are proud of the UK’s compassionate history and Her Majesty’s leading role in our national story.”
Dr Jones, who has been described as “an eminent Welsh historian”, studied at Oxford University and Aberystwyth before becoming a teacher and later education officer at the National Museum of Wales.
As part of her work, she was responsible for developing the history curriculum in Wales between 1996 and 2006, commissioning teaching resources and advising the regulators of GCSE, AS and A level qualifications in history and government and politics.
The Jubilee Book was published in May as a gift to each primary school child to tell the history of the Queen’s 70 year reign in Britain.
Designed as an official once-in-a-lifetime commemoration of the Platinum Jubilee and written in collaboration with royal experts and historians, the book tells the story of a young girl, Isabella, visiting her Great Granny Joyce who tells her about the Queen and this year’s Jubilee.
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In the story, Isabella sifts through Great Granny Joyce’s treasure box of souvenirs, which act as introductions to the contents of the book.
These include recent and historical events across the United Kingdom and Commonwealth, inspirational people, landmark innovations and inventions, and a selection of the best art, design, and culture.