THOUSANDS of people have joined a march in Cardiff calling for Welsh independence.

Campaigners carrying large flags and banners and wearing Wales football bucket hats paraded through the city centre led by a samba band.

The rally was organised by All Under One Banner Cymru (AUOB) and Yes Cymru who say the UK Government in Westminster no longer has the best interests of the Welsh people in mind.

A similar event held in Wrexham, North Wales, in July attracted around 8000 supporters.

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There were concerns about how campaigners would get to Saturday’s march given the effects of this weekend’s national rail strikes but AUOB Cymru was still confident of a large turnout.

At the front of the march, and helping to carry a long sign that says “Annibyniaeth” meaning Independence, was Plaid Cymru leader and Senedd member Adam Price (below), and ex-Plaid leader Leanne Wood.

The National:

Price told the PA news agency he believed marchers were buoyed by a report published on Friday which he said debunked the idea that Wales is “too small and too poor to thrive as an independent nation”.

Harriet Protheroe-Soltani, from AUOB Cymru, said: “Given the UK Government’s recent tax cuts for the rich and continual erosion of workers’ rights it’s important, now more than ever, that people come along and demonstrate that we do not trust Westminster to look after the interests of Wales.”

The head of YesCymru, Gwern Gwynfil, said he wanted the march to be a “loud and joyful celebration”.

The National: Plaid Senedd member Leanne Wood took part in the Cardiff march for Welsh independencePlaid Senedd member Leanne Wood took part in the Cardiff march for Welsh independence (Image: (Bronwen Weatherby/PA))

The march began at midday in Windsor Place and travelled in a 1.5-mile loop along Queen Street, St John Street, Working Street, The Hayes, Mill Lane, St Mary’s Street, High Street, and Duke Street before returning to the starting point.

Speeches and performances are expected to take place afterwards.

The line-up includes actor Julian Lewis Jones who plays Boremund Baratheon in hit HBO series and Game Of Thrones prequel House Of The Dragon.

Other speakers include former Plaid Cymru leader Dafydd Wigley, with actress and novelist Ffion Dafis, singer Eadyth Crawford and Irish comedian Tadhg Hickey also due to make an appearance.

The National: Thousands took part in the Welsh march for independenceThousands took part in the Welsh march for independence (Image: PA)

Fringe events have been organised to take place into the evening including an independence gig which will be held at live music venue The Globe.

A recent YouGov poll on behalf of ITV Wales and Cardiff University found over a fifth (24%) of Welsh voters would back an independent Wales in a hypothetical referendum.

More than half (52%) said they would vote against it while 14% said they did not know how they would vote.

A Cardiff Council worker told PA they believed there were around 4800 people on the march.

The National: Campaigners said the UK Government no longer serves the best interest of the Welsh peopleCampaigners said the UK Government no longer serves the best interest of the Welsh people (Image: PA)

Student Mirain Owen, 17, travelled to the march from Swansea with her father and said she believes support for independence is growing among young people.

“I’m here to support independence as a young person that wants to see a better future for Wales,” she said.

“I don’t think that the current situation is working for Wales and I think we definitely need to see some change as recent events in Westminster have shown us so clearly.

“I think young people are more supportive of independence than ever before because everything that is happening is affecting our lives, we can’t do nothing.”

As speeches began in Windsor Place, Hickey’s mention of Prime Minister Liz Truss elicited loud booing from the crowd.

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Taking to the stage, Lewis Jones called the UK Government “the worst show on in the West End at the moment”.

He said: “We were the first colony of England and in some ways we are the last colony of England. But enough is enough.

“It’s time we stand up as a nation on our own two feet.

“We are big enough. We are strong enough. And we will fight for this.

“Let this day light a fire in all our bellies,” he ended to applause.

AUOB Cymru told The National: "The solidarity and applause from people on the streets was beautiful to see. There was nothing but support from people watching.

"The rally really galvanised people from across the political spectrum. Key themes of the speeches were the current UK economy and its link to the continual underfunding and deprioritising of Wales.”