Princess of Wales

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Princess of Wales
Style Her Royal Highness
Appointer The Monarch of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Term length Life tenure or Until appointment as queen consort of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms or Remarriage
Inaugural holder Isabella de Braose
Salary Undisclosed

Princess of Wales (Welsh: Tywysoges Cymru) is a British courtesy title now held by the wife of the Prince of Wales. The first acknowledged title holder was Eleanor de Montfort, wife of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. It was subsequently used by wives of post-conquest princes of Wales. The title has had relatively few holders, as the heirs to the throne often did not marry until after their accession, if at all.

Camilla, the second wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, is the present Princess of Wales, but she does not use the title.[1]

Princesses of Wales[edit]

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, the second wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, is by title the current Princess of Wales but does not use the title.
The most recent Princess of Wales to actually use her title, Diana, Princess of Wales, first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales.
The second most recent Princess of Wales, later Queen Mary, the last actual born princess to become Princess of Wales.

The eleven post-conquest Princesses of Wales (and the dates the individuals held that title) are:

  1. Joan of Kent (held title 1361–1376) — became dowager princess when her husband, Edward, the Black Prince, died as Prince of Wales.
  2. Cecily Neville (1460)
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Caroline of Ansbach (1714–1727) — became Queen Consort when George II acceded to the throne.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Diana Spencer (29 July 1981–28 August 1996) — Diana was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, whom she married on 29 July 1981. Following her divorce, she assumed the style of 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 princess, while omitting the style of "Royal Highness". 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. This situation made the Princess the first non-royal British princess in history.[2]
  11. Camilla Parker Bowles (9 April 2005–present) — Camilla is the second wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, whom she married on 9 April 2005. She 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.[3]

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).

Status of the title[edit]

The third most recent Princess of Wales, later Queen Alexandra, the longest-serving Princess of Wales to date.

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, because her father was Duke 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.

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".[4]

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[edit]

This is a list of the title holders from the House of Tudor since Henry VII of England:

  1. HRH Infanta Catherine of Aragon, wife of Arthur, Prince of Wales, and later wife of Henry VIII of England. Married Henry VIII when she widowed from her first marriage. After her divorce, she became The Dowager Princess of Wales.

This is a list of the title holders from the House of Hanover since King George I:

  1. HSH Margravine Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach, later Queen Caroline wife of George, Prince of Wales, later King George II.
  2. HSH Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, later the Dowager Princess of Wales and wife of Frederick, Prince of Wales.
  3. HSH Duchess Caroline of Brunswick, 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:

  1. HRH Princess Alexandra of Denmark was the wife of Edward, Prince of Wales who was son of Queen Victoria.
  2. HSH Princess Victoria Mary of Teck 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:

  1. Lady Diana Frances Spencer was the first wife of The present Prince of Wales; after divorce she became the first non-royal Princess in British History.
  2. Camilla Rosemary Shand as the second wife of HRH The Prince of Wales, did not assume the style of Princess of Wales.

Notes: Wallis Simpson was never Princess of Wales, because she married a former title holder. Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was never Princess of Wales because she was married to the heir presumptive, HRH The Duke of York.

Other titles of the Princesses of Wales[edit]

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[edit]

Several consorts of Welsh princes of Wales were theoretically princesses of Wales while their husbands were in power. 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."[5]


  1. ^ "House of Commons". Retrieved 7 February 2015. 
  2. ^ Divorce: Status And Role Of The Princess Of Wales
  3. ^ 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, construed 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. Entitled to be styled Princess of Wales, she does not use that title; instead she 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, it has been publicly stated that she will use an alternative title, Princess Consort.
  4. ^ "To the Lady Mary, Prince of Wales, Daughter of Henry VIII, King of England" [1]
  5. ^ Gwenllian, Princess of Wales at


  • Princesses of Wales by Deborah Fisher. University of Wales Press, 2005.
  • 'Tystiolaeth Garth Celyn' Y Traethodydd 1998 ISSN 0969 8930

Further reading[edit]

  • 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.