Princess of Wales
|Princess of Wales|
The Insignia of the Princess of Wales
|Appointer||The Monarch of Great Britain and Northern Ireland|
|Term length||Until appointment as Queen consort of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms or Life tenure or Remarriage|
|Inaugural holder||Isabella de Braose|
Although there have been considerably more than ten male heirs to the throne, there have been only ten Princesses of Wales. The majority of Princes of Wales married after acceding to the throne as King. A number of other Princes of Wales died too young to marry.
The second wife of the present Prince of Wales, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, is the Princess of Wales by right, but does not use the title, due to its strong association with her husband's first wife, the late Diana, Princess of Wales. However, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge is expected to be the next Princess of Wales, who will be known publicly by that title.
Princesses of Wales
The eleven Princesses of Wales (and the dates the individuals held that title) are as follows:
- Isabella de Braose
- Eleanor de Montfort
- Joan of Kent (held title 1361–1376) — became dowager princess when her husband, Edward, the Black Prince, died as Prince of Wales.
- Anne Neville (1470–1471) — through her marriage to Edward of Lancaster, though there is no record of her having used the title. She became queen consort when her second husband became King Richard III of England.
- Catherine of Aragon (1501–1502) — became Dowager Princess of Wales when her first husband, Arthur, died as Prince. She remarried Arthur's younger brother, Henry, shortly after his succession in 1509 and became Queen Consort. Following the controversial annulment of their marriage, Catherine was officially designated the Dowager Princess of Wales until her death.
- Caroline of Ansbach (1714–1727) — became Queen Consort when George II acceded to the throne.
- Augusta of Saxe-Gotha (1736–1751) — Became Dowager Princess of Wales after her husband, Frederick, Prince of Wales, died. Their eldest son, Prince George William Frederick, later George III, was created Prince of Wales only weeks after his father's death. He, in turn, married Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz after his accession; thus she became Queen Consort and was never Princess of Wales.
- Caroline of Brunswick (8 April 1795–29 January 1820) — Married George, Prince of Wales, on 8 April 1795; became Queen Consort on the accession of her husband as George IV of the United Kingdom. Caroline and George were estranged, and she was barred from his court and from her husband's coronation. An attempt to divorce her by act of Parliament in 1820 failed. Queen Caroline died 7 August 1821.
- Alexandra of Denmark (10 March 1863–22 January 1901) — The daughter of King Christian IX of Denmark, she married Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, and became Princess of Wales on 10 March 1863. On the accession of her husband as Edward VII of the United Kingdom on 22 January 1901, she became Queen Consort. Upon his death on 6 May 1910, she became Queen Mother (generally known as Queen Alexandra) and died herself on 20 November 1925.
- Mary of Teck (9 November 1901–6 May 1910) — Married George, Duke of York, on 6 July 1893 and became Duchess of York; became additionally Duchess of Cornwall on the accession of her father-in-law as Edward VII of the United Kingdom on 22 January 1901; became Princess of Wales on 9 November 1901; became Queen Consort upon the accession of her husband George V on 6 May 1910; became Queen Mother (generally known as Queen Mary) upon his death on 20 January 1936. During her marriage, she successively held the titles Duchess of York, Duchess of Cornwall, Princess of Wales, Queen-Empress and Queen-Empress Dowager. Queen Mary died 24 March 1953.
- Diana Spencer (29 July 1981–31 August 1997) — Diana was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, whom she married on 29 July 1981. Following her divorce, she lost the style Her Royal Highness and instead was styled Diana, Princess of Wales. Buckingham Palace issued a press release on the day that the decree absolute of divorce was issued, announcing Diana's change of title, but adding that Diana continued to be a British princess. The Princess, as the mother of Prince William, was to be regarded by The Queen and The Prince of Wales as being a member of the Royal Family and would retain any orders, insignia and other titles, consistent with her being known as Diana, Princess of Wales. After her divorce and until her death Diana, Princess of Wales continued to be a Princess of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland without the style Royal Highness. This situation made the Princess the first non-royal British princess in history.
- Camilla Shand (9 April 2005–present) — Camilla is the second wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, whom she married on 9 April 2005. Though entitled to be styled Princess of Wales, Camilla is the first Princess of Wales whose husband previously had another official consort known as Princess of Wales. Camilla uses the style of Duchess of Cornwall or Rothesay because of the strong association of the title Princess of Wales, which remains with her husband's first wife.[specify]
Several Princesses of Wales became queens consort. Those who did not generally took the title of "Dowager Princess of Wales" after the deaths of their husbands. (Following the annulment of Henry VIII's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, Catherine officially reverted to her earlier title of Dowager Princess of Wales, as the widow of Henry's older brother, Arthur, Prince of Wales, because Henry did not wish to acknowledge that he had ever been legally married to her.)
Under the male-preference primogeniture in use in the United Kingdom, a daughter, sister, or other female relative of a monarch may be heir presumptive, but none has ever been heir apparent, since it has always been (theoretically) possible for the monarch to beget or bear a male heir who would displace any female heir, even an older sister. A woman could become heir apparent if she was the brotherless eldest child of a deceased heir apparent; this situation has never arisen, however, in the history of the United Kingdom.
Under the new absolute primogeniture system, it will be more possible for there to be a female heir apparent, a situation which would likely result in a first-born daughter of a monarch to become "Princess of Wales" in her own right. Similar to other cases, her husband would not take any titles from her and would only use whatever titles he has, if any at all.
Status of the title
The Princess of Wales is not a princess in her own right. Some past Princesses of Wales, for example Catherine of Aragon, Alexandra of Denmark and Mary of Teck, were called "Princess Catherine", "Princess Alexandra", and "Princess Mary". However, that was because they were already princesses of their ancestral countries when they married: Catherine, of Aragon (the component kingdom of Spain ruled by her father Ferdinand), and also Castile (of which her mother Isabella was queen); Alexandra, of Denmark; and Mary, of Württemberg (where her father was Prince of Teck), respectively. Though Diana, Princess of Wales was commonly called "Princess Diana" after her marriage to Charles, Prince of Wales, it was officially incorrect, as Diana herself pointed out, because she was not a princess in her own right. Similarly Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, is neither "Princess Camilla" nor "Duchess Camilla".
There is, however, one notable exception to this rule. During her youth, Mary I was invested by her father, Henry VIII, with many of the rights and properties traditionally given to the Prince of Wales, including use of the official seal of Wales for correspondence. For most of her childhood, Mary was her father's only legitimate heir, and for this reason she was often referred to as "the Princess of Wales", although Henry never formally created her as such. For example, Spanish scholar Juan Luis Vives dedicated his Satellitium Animi to "Dominæ Mariæ Cambriæ Principi, Henrici Octavi Angliæ Regis Filiæ".
When a title was sought for the future Elizabeth II, the possibility of investing her as Princess of Wales in her own right was raised. This suggestion was rejected, because Princess of Wales is a courtesy title held by the wife of the Prince of Wales. If it were used by Princess Elizabeth, it would have degraded her right as a Princess of the United Kingdom unless Letters Patent or legislation were introduced to the contrary. Furthermore, if the then Princess Elizabeth had been given the title of Princess of Wales, there would have been the problem of what to call her future husband. Therefore, King George VI decided not to give his elder daughter the title.
Title holders by Ruling House
- HRH Princess Caroline of Ansbach, Princess of Wales, later Queen Caroline wife of George, Prince of Wales, later King George II.
- HRH Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, Princess of Wales, later the Dowager Princess of Wales and wife of Frederick, Prince of Wales.
- HRH Princess Caroline of Brunswick, Princess of Wales, later Queen Caroline, was the estranged wife of George, Prince of Wales and Prince Regent, later George IV.
Notes: Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was never Princess of Wales, she married the Prince of Wales, George III of the United Kingdom as King. Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen was never Princess of Wales because she was the wife of the heir presumptive.
Title holders of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha:
- HRH Princess Alexandra of Denmark, Princess of Wales was the wife of Edward, Prince of Wales who was son of Queen Victoria.
- HRH Princess Mary of Teck, Princess of Wales and Duchess of York was the wife of George, Prince of Wales and Duke of York who was the son of Edward VII of the United Kingdom.
Notes: Mary of Teck was the only Princess of Wales to be Duchess of York before becoming said title.
Title holders of the House of Windsor:
- Diana, Princess of Wales was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales; after divorce she became the first non-royal Princess in British History.
- HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, as the second wife of HRH The Prince of Wales, did not assume the style of Princess of Wales due to the strong association with the previous holder.
Notes: Wallis Simpson was never Princess of Wales, because she married the title holder after his accession and abdication. Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was never Princess of Wales because she married the heir presumptive, HRH The Duke of York and his title (Duke of York) merged with the Crown.
Other titles of the Princesses of Wales
The Princess of Wales, by virtue of her marriage to The Prince of Wales, takes on the feminine equivalent of her husband's subsidiary titles. Thus, upon marriage, the wife of The Prince of Wales assumes the styles and titles – Her Royal Highness The Princess (husband’s Christian name) of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Princess of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Rothesay, Countess of Chester, Countess of Carrick, Baroness of Renfrew, Lady of the Isles and Princess of Scotland.
Of all these titles, "Princess of Wales" has been used officially, due to it being of a higher rank than the additional peerage titles. However, as noted with the example of the current holder, a subsidiary title may just as easily and legally be used.
The Princess is known as Duchess of Rothesay in Scotland, as the Prince of Wales is known as Duke of Rothesay there, the dukedom being the title historically associated with the heir to the Scottish throne. The Princess of Wales also holds the titles of Duchess of Cornwall and Countess of Chester, as spouse to the Prince of Wales who is also Duke of Cornwall and Earl of Chester.
Native princesses of Wales
Several consorts of native Welsh princes of Wales were theoretically princesses of Wales while their husbands were on the throne. Llywelyn ab Iorwerth's consort, Joan, Lady of Wales, used that title in the 1230s; Isabella de Braose and Elizabeth Ferrers were likewise married to princes of Wales, but it is not known if they assumed a title in light of their husbands' status.
The only consort of a Welsh prince definitively shown to have used the title was Eleanor de Montfort, the English bride of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the last native Prince of Wales. Their only child was Gwenllian of Wales, who was taken prisoner as an infant following her father's death. Gwenllian was the last native Welsh princess to actually be identified as Princess of Wales; Edward I had her raised in Sempringham Priory in Lincolnshire, far from where any Welsh rebels could find her, and once appealed to the Pope to increase funds to the priory by writing that "...herein is kept the Princess of Wales, whom we have to maintain."
- Divorce: Status And Role Of The Princess Of Wales
- The right of Camilla to use the title Princess of Wales was debated prior to her royal marriage. The Lord Chancellor, having reviewed the case, ruled that as the wife of The Prince of Wales, Camilla would automatically become The Princess of Wales unless a change in statute law or possibly an Order in Council ruled otherwise. No Bill or Order in Council was introduced to deny Camilla the use of the title. She however does not use the title (seen by many as a mark of respect for the previous holder), and instead uses one of the alternative titles possessed by each Princess of Wales. Similarly, as wife of the King, she will automatically be Queen Consort. However, she has publicly stated that she intends to use an alternative title, Princess Consort.
- "To the Lady Mary, Prince of Wales, Daughter of Henry VIII, King of England" 
- Gwenllian, Princess of Wales at castlewales.com
- Princesses of Wales by Deborah Fisher. University of Wales Press, 2005.
- 'Tystiolaeth Garth Celyn' Y Traethodydd 1998 ISSN 0969 8930
- Fryer, M.; Mary Beacock Fryer, Arthur Bousfield, Garry Toffoli (1983). Lives of the Princesses of Wales. Toronto: Dundern Press Limited. ISBN 978-0-919670-69-3.