NIA JONES tells us about the grim and bloody Welsh tale of the Princess and the Knight of the Blood Red Plume ….
The stunning Rhuddlan Castle sits on the banks of the River Clwyd – in the north east of Wales. Built by Edward I this impressive fortification was part of his attempt to conquer the Welsh nation. Naturally the site has witnessed plenty of agony, savage bloodshed and times of anguish. But despite these harrowing echoes of the past – another terrifying legend still haunts the grounds and stones of Rhuddlan Castle.
The mediaeval kingdoms of North and South Wales were continually locked in conflicts, so the eventual negotiations for a peaceful resolution had resulted in the arranged betrothment of the Prince of South Wales to Erilda, Princess of North Wales.
The marriage being a purely political tactic; the fair, yet headstrong maiden objected strongly to the union and prayed to the heavens for an intervention, but the intervention that came to her was far from divine.
The long anticipated wedding day arrived, royalty, dignitaries and noble folk gathered at the Rhuddlan Castle chapel adorned in their jewels and finery, their weapons surrendered as a sign of respect for the hallowed ground and the historical and prosperous occasion. An air of optimism whispered through guests and the welsh subjects who gathered outside the castle. The atmosphere hopeful as the young couple made their way down to the alter.
As the ceremony progressed to the exchanging of vows and rings the chapel doors suddenly burst open, there stood a majestical black stallion upon his back a knight in glittering armour, the most beautiful any eye had ever seen.
His helm was decorated with a plume of blood- bright crimson, his presence was hypnotic as he galloped down the aisle towards the bride and groom. Pushing the stunned groom away he swept the bride up into his arms, she shrieked with joy and immediately kissed the brave knight as her angel and saviour.
But her elation and relief was premature, suddenly he threw her violently over his shoulder like a ragdoll; drew out his sword and in one swift swoop decapitated the mortified young prince where he stood, his severed head hitting the chapel’s cold stone floor; spraying the archbishop and nearby guests with blood and gore. The King of North Wales dashed across to try and save his daughter, but the knight drove his blade straight through his heart as the wedding guests panicked and screamed at the horror unfolding before them.
Powerless and paralysed with shock Elrida could do nothing to stop the murderous knight from charging out of the chapel with her, his sword tearing the flesh of anyone in his path. Once the knight fled the castle; his true evil form was revealed to Erilda, removing his helmet he was not a man but a gruesome demon with hideous scaly green- yellow skin, red glowing eyes and sharp fang-like teeth.
The princess was never seen in the kingdom again, the knight was believed to be an infernal creature sent by the devil to spread discord and to sabotage the peacemaking efforts. Some believe the knight drowned the princess in the River Clwyd, another possibility is that she died of fright when she saw the knight’s devilish form.
Sadly, the events of the wedding day reignited the old feuds, prompted more anger, blame and accusations. The kingdoms accused the other of arranging the kidnapping and the murders, the efforts for obtaining a peaceful alliance were shattered and Wales was once again at war.
Princess Erilda’s sobbing and wailing spirit is reputedly still echoing among the grounds and walls of Rhuddlan Castle, some have even seen her weary traumatised figure; wandering at night in a bloodstained gown.
She grieves for her father, the tragic events of her wedding day and her devastating encounter with the Knight of the Blood Red Plume.