Prince of Wales

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Prince Charles, the current Prince of Wales

Prince of Wales (Welsh: Tywysog Cymru) is a title traditionally granted to the heir apparent to the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the 15 other independent Commonwealth realms (and formerly of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, before that the Kingdom of Great Britain and before that the Kingdom of England). The current Prince of Wales is Prince Charles, the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II.


Roles and responsibilities

The Prince of Wales currently has no formal public role or responsibility that has been legislated by Parliament or otherwise delegated by the Monarchy. Charles, like most previous Princes of Wales, is also Duke of Cornwall and therefore responsible for the duchy of Cornwall.


The full armorial achievement of Charles, Prince of Wales.

For most of the post-Roman period, the nation of Wales was divided into several smaller states. Before the Norman conquest of England, the most powerful Welsh ruler at any given time was generally known as King of the Britons. In the 12th century and the 13th century, this title evolved into Prince of Wales (see Brut y Tywysogion). In Latin, the new title was "Princeps Walliae", and in Welsh it was "Tywysog Cymru". The literal translation of "Tywysog" is "Leader". (The verb tywys means to lead.)

Only a handful of native princes had their claim to the overlordship of Wales recognised by the English Crown. The first known to have used such a title was Owain Gwynedd, adopting the title Prince of the Welsh around 1165 after earlier using 'rex Waliae' (King of Wales). His grandson Llywelyn the Great is not known to have used the title 'Prince of Wales' as such, although his use, from around 1230, of the style 'Prince of Aberffraw, Lord of Snowdon' was tantamount to a proclamation of authority over most of Wales, and he did use the title 'Prince of North Wales' as did his predecessor Dafydd ab Owain Gwynedd. In 1240, the title was theoretically inherited by his son Dafydd ap Llywelyn, though he is not known to have used it. Instead he styled himself as 'Prince of Wales' around 1244, the first Welsh prince to do so. In 1246, his nephew Llywelyn the Last (or Llywelyn ap Gruffydd) succeeded to the throne of Gwynedd, and used the style as early as 1258. In 1267, with the signing of the Treaty of Montgomery, he was recognised by both King Henry III of England and the representative of the Papacy as Prince of Wales. In 1282, Llywelyn was killed during Edward I of England's invasion of Wales, possibly by Sir Anthony de Tipton, who was knighted by the King of England afterward, and although his brother Dafydd ap Gruffudd succeeded to the Welsh princeship, issuing documents as prince, his principate was not recognised by the English Crown.

Three Welshmen, however, claimed the title of Prince of Wales after 1283.

The first was Madog ap Llywelyn, a member of the house of Gwynedd, who led a nationwide revolt in 1294-5, defeating English forces in battle near Denbigh and seizing Caernarfon Castle. His revolt was suppressed, however, after the Battle of Maes Moydog in March 1295, and the prince was imprisoned in London.

In the 1370s, Owain Lawgoch, an English-born descendant of one of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd's brothers, claimed the title of Prince of Wales, but was assassinated in France in 1378 before he could return to Wales to claim his inheritance.

It is Owain Glyndŵr, however, whom many Welsh people regard as being the last native Prince. On 16 September 1400, he was proclaimed Prince of Wales by his supporters, and held parliaments at Harlech Castle and elsewhere during his revolt, which encompassed all of Wales. It was not until 1409 that his revolt in quest of Welsh independence was suppressed by Henry IV.

The tradition of investing the heir-apparent of the monarch with the title of "Prince of Wales" is usually considered to have begun in 1301, when King Edward I of England invested his son Edward Caernarfon with the title at a Parliament held in Lincoln. According to legend, the king had promised the Welsh that he would name "a prince born in Wales, who did not speak a word of English" and then produced his infant son to their surprise (and presumable chagrin). However, the story may well be apocryphal, as it can only be traced to the 16th century, and, in the time of Edward I, the English aristocracy spoke Norman French, not English (some versions of the legend include lack of knowledge in both languages as a requirement, and one reported version has the very specific phrase "born on Welsh soil and speaking no other language"). However, Edward II certainly was born at Caernarfon while his father was campaigning in Wales, and like all infants, could not at the time speak English or any other language.

Interestingly, William Camden writing in 1607 states in his book Britannia that originally the title "Prince of Wales" was not conferred automatically upon the eldest living son of the King of England because Edward II (who had been the first English Prince of Wales) neglected to invest his eldest son, the future Edward III, with that title. It was Edward III who revived the practice of naming the eldest son Prince of Wales which was then maintained by his successors:

But King Edward the Second conferred not upon his sonne Edward the title of Prince of Wales, but onely the name of Earle of Chester and of Flint, so farre as ever I could learne out of the Records, and by that title summoned him to Parliament, being then nine yeres old. King Edward the Third first created his eldest sonne Edward surnamed the Blacke Prince, the Mirour of Chivalrie (being then Duke of Cornwall and Earle of Chester), Prince of Wales by solemne investure, with a cap of estate and Coronet set on his head, a gold ring put upon his finger, and a silver vierge delivered into his hand, with the assent of Parliament.[1]

Nevertheless, according to conventional wisdom since 1301 the Prince of Wales has usually been the eldest living son of the King or Queen Regnant of England (subsequently of Great Britain, 1707, and of the United Kingdom, 1801). The word "living" is important. Following the death of Prince Arthur, the Prince of Wales, Henry VII invested his second son, the future Henry VIII, with the title—although only after it was clear that Arthur's wife, Catherine of Aragon, was not pregnant. The title is not automatic; it merges into the Crown when a prince accedes to the throne, or lapses on his death leaving the sovereign free to re-grant it should another candidate qualify, such as an heir-apparent other than the eldest living son, such as that deceased eldest son's eldest son (for example, George III).

The Principality of Wales, nowadays, is always conferred along with the Earldom of Chester. The convention began in 1399; all previous Princes of Wales also received the earldom, but separately from the Principality. Indeed, before 1272 a hereditary and not necessarily royal Earldom of Chester had already been created several times, eventually merging in the crown each time. The earldom was recreated, merging in the Crown in 1307 and again in 1327. Its creations since have been associated with the creations of the Principality of Wales.

Heraldic insignia

The "Prince of Wales's Feathers". This Heraldic badge of the Heir Apparent is derived from the ostrich feathers borne by Edward, the Black Prince. The German motto "Ich dien" means "I serve."

As heir apparent to the reigning sovereign, the Prince of Wales bears the Royal Arms differenced by a white label of three points. To represent Wales he bears the Coat of Arms of the Principality of Wales, crowned with the heir-apparent's crown, on an inescutcheon-en-surtout. This was first used by the future King Edward VIII in 1910, and followed by the current Prince of Wales, Prince Charles.[2]

He has a badge of three ostrich feathers (which can be seen on the reverse of the previous design for decimal British two pence coins dated up to 2008); it dates back to the Black Prince and is his as the English heir even before he is made Prince of Wales.

In addition to these symbols used most frequently, he has a special standard for use in Wales itself. Moreover, as Duke of Rothesay he has a special coat of arms for use in Scotland (and a corresponding standard); as Duke of Cornwall the like for use in the Duchy of Cornwall. Representations of all three may be found at List of British flags.

For theories about the origin of the ostrich feather badge and of the motto "Ich dien" (German: "I serve"), see Prince of Wales's feathers.

Other titles and investiture

The Principality of Wales and Earldom of Chester must be created, and are not automatically acquired like the Duchy of Cornwall, which is the Heir Apparent's title in England, and the Dukedom of Rothesay, Earldom of Carrick, and High Stewardship of Scotland, which are the Heir Apparent's titles in Scotland. The dignities are not hereditary, but may be re-created if the Prince of Wales predeceases the King. For example, Prince Frederick, Prince of Wales predeceased King George II, so Frederick's eldest son, Prince George (the future George III), was created Prince of Wales. The heir apparent is only Duke of Cornwall if he is the sovereign's eldest living son; hence the future George III, grandson of George II, did not receive this title. See Duke of Cornwall for more details.

If holder of the Dukedom of York, the traditional title for the monarch's second son, becomes Heir Apparent on the death of an older brother, he is entitled to retain that title. Prince Henry (later Henry VIII), Prince Charles (later Charles I) and Prince George (later George V) were all second sons, and were therefore already Duke of York when they received the Principality of Wales.

Following the reversion of the Earldom of Chester to the crown, in 1254 Henry III passed the Lordship of Chester (but not the title of Earl) to his son Edward, who as Edward I bestowed the Earldom of Chester on his son Edward when he created him the first Prince of Wales in 1301. The Duchy of Cornwall was first created by Edward III for his son Edward, the Black Prince in 1337.

The Earldom of Carrick merged into the crown of Scotland with the accession in 1306 of the Earl of Carrick, Robert the Bruce, who transferred the title to his son David in 1328 (the title became automatically subsidiary to the Dukedom of Rothesay in 1469); the High Stewardship merged into the crown with the accession of Robert, 7th High Steward of Scotland as Robert III in 1371; the Dukedom of Rothesay was created by Robert III of Scotland for his son David in 1398. All three of these titles merged with the Principality in the same person after the personal union of the Scottish and English crowns in 1603 with the accession of James VI of Scotland as James I of England, with the first Prince of Wales to receive them being his son Henry Frederick (subsequently an incorporating union created a single British crown in 1707).

Princes of Wales may be invested, but investiture is not necessary to be created Prince of Wales. Peers were also invested, but investitures for peers ceased in 1621, during a time when peerages were being created so frequently that the investiture ceremony became cumbersome. Most investitures for Princes of Wales were held in front of Parliament, but in 1911, the future Edward VIII was invested in Caernarfon Castle in Wales. The present Prince of Wales was also invested there, in 1969. During the reading of the letters patent creating the Prince, the Honours of the Principality of Wales are delivered to the Prince. The coronet of the heir-apparent bears four-crosses pattée alternating with four fleurs-de-lis, surmounted by a single arch (the Sovereign's crowns are of the same design, but use two arches). A gold rod is also used in the insignia; gold rods were formally used in the investitures of dukes, but survive now in the investitures of Princes of Wales only. Also part of the insignia are a ring, a sword and a robe.

Heir apparent vs. Heir presumptive

The title Prince of Wales is given only to the heir apparent—that is, somebody who cannot be displaced in the succession to the throne by any future birth. The United Kingdom practices male primogeniture (although there is currently a bill before parliament to change this), this means that the heir apparent is the eldest son of the reigning monarch, or, if he is deceased, his eldest son, and so on, or if the monarch's eldest son has died without issue, the monarch's second eldest son, etc. In such countries, a daughter of the sovereign who is currently next in line to the throne is never the "heir apparent" because she would be displaced in the succession by any future legitimate son of the sovereign, and cannot therefore take the title, thus no women has ever held the title Princess of Wales in her own right.

Since the title of Prince of Wales is not automatic, there have been times where there was no Prince of Wales. There was no heir apparent during the reign of George VI, who had no sons. Princess Elizabeth was heiress presumptive, and was hence not eligible to be titled Princess of Wales. After it became obvious that George VI was unlikely to father more children, the option of bestowing the title of Princess of Wales was considered (but ultimately rejected, due in large part to a lack of enthusiasm for the idea from the heiress presumptive herself). There was also no Prince of Wales for the first several years of the reign of Elizabeth II. Prince Charles was not named Prince of Wales until 1958 when he was nine years old.

The title of Princess of Wales has always been held by the Prince's wife in her capacity as spouse of the heir apparent and therefore future queen consort. The current Princess of Wales is HRH Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall who automatically assumed the title upon her legal marriage to Charles, Prince of Wales. Camilla however has chosen not to be publicly known by the title due to its association with her predecessor, Diana.

On October 28, 2011, the leaders of all 16 Commonwealth realms agreed to end the practice of male primogeniture regarding heirs to the throne.[3] The Succession to the Crown Bill 2012 was introduced on December 12, 2012, and published the next day.[4]

List of Princes of Wales

Prince of Wales as independent title

PictureNameHeir ofBirthBecame Prince of WalesCeased to be Prince of WalesDeathOther titles while Prince of WalesPrincess of Wales
Dafydd ap Llywelynson of Llywelyn ab Iorwerthc.121211 April 1240; first documented use in 124425 February 1246Prince of Gwynedd and of Aberffraw, Lord of SnowdonIsabella de Braose
Llywelyn the Last at Cardiff City Hall.jpgLlywelyn ap GruffuddN/A
son of Gruffydd ap Llywelyn
c.1223Succeeded Dafydd in 1246 as prince of Gwynedd; used title 'prince of Wales' from 1258; recognised by Henry III 29 September 126711 December 1282
killed in battle
Prince of Gwynedd and of Aberffraw, Lord of SnowdonEleanor de Montfort
Dafydd ap Gruffuddbrother of Llywelyn ap Gruffuddc.123811 December 12823 October 1283
executed at Shrewsbury
Prince of Gwynedd and Aberffraw, Lord of SnowdonElizabeth Ferrers

Prince of Wales as title of English and British heir apparent

PictureNameHeir ofBirthBecame Heir-apparent to the ThroneCreated Prince of WalesCeased to be Prince of WalesDeathOther titles while Prince of WalesPrincess of Wales
Edward I and II.jpgEdward of Caernarfon
Edward II
Edward I25 April 128419 August 12847 February 13017 July 1307
became King
21 September 1327Count of Ponthieu, Earl of Chester
Plantagenet, Edward, The Black Prince, Iconic Image.JPGEdward of Woodstock, the Black PrinceEdward III15 June 133012 May 1343[5]8 June 1376Earl of Chester, Duke of CornwallJoan of Kent
RichardIIWestminsterHead.JPGRichard of Bordeaux
Richard II
6 January 13678 June 137620 November 1376[5]22 June 1377
became King
14 February 1400Duke of Cornwall, Earl of Chester
Henry5.JPGHenry of Monmouth
Henry V
Henry IV16 September 138730 September 139915 October 1399[5]21 March 1413
became King
31 August 1422Duke of Lancaster, Duke of Cornwall, Earl of Chester
Edward.4.plantagenet.jpgEdward of WestminsterHenry VI13 October 145315 March 1454[5]11 April 1471 Father deposed4 May 1471Duke of Cornwall, Earl of ChesterAnne Neville
King Edward V from NPG.jpgEdward of the Sanctuary
Edward V
Edward IV4 November 147011 April 147126 June 1471[5]9 April 1483
became King
1483?Duke of Cornwall, Earl of Chester
Edward of MiddlehamRichard III1473148324 August 1483[5]31 March or
9 April 1484
Duke of Cornwall, Earl of Chester, Earl of Salisbury
Arthur Prince of Wales c 1500.jpgArthur TudorHenry VII20 September 148629 November 14892 April 1502Duke of Cornwall, Earl of ChesterCatherine of Aragon
HenryVIII 1509.jpgHenry Tudor
Henry VIII
28 June 14912 April 150218 February 1504[5]21 April 1509
became King
28 January 1547Duke of Cornwall, Earl of Chester, Duke of York
Portrait of Edward VI of England.jpgEdward Tudor
Edward VI
Henry VIII12 October 153712 October 1537[5]28 January 1547
became King
6 July 1553Duke of Cornwall, Earl of Chester
Henry Prince of Wales after Isaac Oliver.jpgHenry Frederick StuartJames I19 February 159424 March 16034 June 1610[5]6 November 1612Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Chester, Earl of Carrick, Baron Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, Prince and Great Steward of Scotland
Charles I (Prince of Wales).jpgCharles Stuart
Charles I
19 November 16006 November 16124 November 1616[5]27 March 1625
became King
30 January 1649Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Duke of York, Duke of Albany, Marquess of Ormonde, Earl of Chester, Earl of Carrick, Earl of Ross, Lord Ardmannoch, Baron Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, Prince and Great Steward of Scotland
King Charles II by Adriaen Hanneman.jpgCharles Stuart
Charles II
Charles I29 May 1630declared c. 1638–1641[5]30 January 1649
title abolished
(became King 1660)
6 February 1685Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Chester, Earl of Carrick, Baron Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, Prince and Great Steward of Scotland
Prince James Francis Edward Stuart by Alexis Simon Belle.jpgJames Francis Edward StuartJames II10 June 1688c. 4 July 1688[5]11 December 1688
Father deposed
1 January 1766Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Chester, Earl of Carrick, Baron Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, Prince and Great Steward of Scotland
KING GEORGE II.jpgGeorge Augustus
George II
George I10 November 16831 August 171427 September 171411 June 1727
became King
25 October 1760Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Chester, Earl of Carrick, Earl of Milford Haven, Viscount Northallerton, Baron Renfrew, Baron Tewkesbury, Lord of the Isles, Prince and Great Steward of ScotlandCaroline of Ansbach
Frederick Lewis, Prince of Wales by Philip Mercier.jpgFrederick LewisGeorge II1 February 170711 June 17278 January 1729[5]31 March 1751Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Duke of Edinburgh, Marquess of the Isle of Ely, Earl of Chester, Earl of Carrick, Earl of Eltham, Viscount Launceston, Baron Renfrew, Baron Snowdon, Lord of the Isles, Prince and Great Steward of ScotlandPrincess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha
George III As Prince of Wales.jpgGeorge William Frederick
George III
4 June 173831 March 175120 April 175125 October 1760
became King
29 January 1820Duke of Edinburgh, Marquess of the Isle of Ely, Earl of Chester, Earl of Eltham, Viscount Launceston, Baron Snowdon
George IV bust1.jpgGeorge Augustus Frederick
George IV
George III12 August 176219 August 1762[5]29 January 1820
became King
26 June 1830Prince Regent, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Chester, Earl of Carrick, Baron Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, Prince and Great Steward of ScotlandCaroline of Brunswick
Prince of Wales00.jpgAlbert Edward
Edward VII
Victoria9 November 18418 December 184122 January 1901
became King
6 May 1910Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Chester, Earl of Carrick, Earl of Dublin, Baron Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, Prince and Great Steward of ScotlandAlexandra of Denmark
George V of the United Kingdom01.jpgGeorge Frederick Ernest Albert
George V
Edward VII3 June 186522 January 19019 November 19016 May 1910
became King
20 January 1936Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Duke of York, Earl of Chester, Earl of Carrick, Earl of Inverness, Baron Renfrew, Baron Killarney, Lord of the Isles, Prince and Great Steward of ScotlandMary of Teck
Bundesarchiv Bild 102-13538, Edward Herzog von Windsor.jpgEdward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David
Edward VIII
then Duke of Windsor
George V23 June 18946 May 191023 June 191020 January 1936
became King
28 May 1972Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Chester, Earl of Carrick, Baron Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, Prince and Great Steward of Scotland
Charles, Prince of Wales.jpgCharles Philip Arthur GeorgeElizabeth II14 November 19486 February 195226 July 1958IncumbentDuke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Chester, Earl of Carrick, Baron Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, Prince and Great Steward of ScotlandLady Diana Spencer;
Camilla Shand (Camilla does not use title "Princess of Wales")
PictureNameHeir ofBirthBecame Heir-apparent to the ThroneCreated Prince of WalesCeased to be Prince of WalesDeathOther titles while Prince of WalesPrincess of Wales

The oldest Prince of Wales (as the English and British heir apparent) at the start of his tenure was George V who was 36 years, 5 months and 6 days old when he assumed the office. HRH The Duke of Cambridge will surpass this record if he is created Prince of Wales any time after 16 November 2018 (two days after his father's 70th birthday).

See also


  1. ^ Glamorganshire. Retrieved on 2012-07-15.
  2. ^ Prince of Wales. Retrieved on 2012-07-15.
  3. ^ – Girls given equal rights to British throne under law changes. (2011-10-28). Retrieved on 2012-07-15.
  4. ^ Succession to the Crown Bill. Parliament of the United Kingdom.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Previous Princes. Prince of Wales. Retrieved on 2012-07-15.

External links