Davies the Druid officially Bard in Wales

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The Independent Online
THE WELSH Secretary, Ron Davies, was yesterday promoted from Tony Blair's inner circle to another magic circle. He was transformed into a Druid at the National Eisteddfod, the annual celebration of Welsh culture and tradition.

After a solemn procession to a ring of standing stones at Bridgend, Glamorgan, Mr Davies was officially admitted into the Gorsedd of Bards, the Eisteddfod's ruling body.

The cabinet minister, in long white robes, and flowing head-dress, Mr Davies was hard to spot among the 27 other similarly-garbed newcomers presented to Archdruid Dafydd Rowlands, who presided at the 200-year-old ceremony. Heralds blew fanfares, a harpist played and flower girls danced in a ritual more artistic and colourful than most of the parliamentary customs Mr Davies is used to at Westminster.

Eisteddfod officials, who observe a strict all-Welsh rule, made no concessions for the Welsh Secretary who is not a fluent speaker, although he is an enthusiastic learner. Politicians are rarely received into the celebrated Celtic band of poets, musicians, writers and artists. But Mr Davies was singled out for his work in steering through the Government's devolution plans.

He had played "a determined role at a crucial period in the history of Wales", said the citation read out by Eisteddfod official Huw Thomas.