Prince of Wales

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For the current holder of the title Prince of Wales, see Charles, Prince of Wales. For other uses, see Prince of Wales (disambiguation).
Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales's feathers Badge.svg
HRH The Prince Charles, Prince of Wales
HRH The Prince Charles

since 26 July 1958
Style His Royal Highness
Residence Clarence House
Appointer Monarch of the United Kingdom
Term length Life tenure or until accession as Sovereign
Inaugural holder Dafydd ap Llywelyn

Prince of Wales (Welsh: Tywysog Cymru) is a title traditionally granted to the heir apparent of the United Kingdom's monarch. The current Prince of Wales is Prince Charles, the eldest son of Elizabeth II, who is Queen of the United Kingdom and 15 other independent Commonwealth realms as well as Head of the 53-member Commonwealth of Nations.

Roles and responsibilities[edit]

The Prince of Wales is the heir apparent of the monarch. No formal public role or responsibility has been legislated by Parliament or otherwise delegated to him by law. The current Prince often represents The Queen by welcoming dignitaries to the nation's capital and attending State dinners during State visits. He has also represented The Queen and the nation overseas at state and ceremonial occasions such as state funerals.[1]


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 ap Gruffudd 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 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, who had been born at Caernarfon, to their surprise. 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").

William Camden wrote in his 1607 work 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.[2]

Nevertheless, according to conventional wisdom since 1301 the Prince of Wales has usually been the eldest living son (if and only if he is also the heir-apparent) of the King or Queen Regnant of England (subsequently of Great Britain, 1707, and of the United Kingdom, 1801). That he is also the heir-apparent 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; when Frederick, Prince of Wales died while his father reigned, George II created Fredrick's son (the king's grandson and new heir-apparent) George Prince of Wales. The title is not automatic and is not heritable; 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 to the new heir-apparent (such as the late prince's son or brother.) Prince Charles was created Prince of Wales on 26 July 1958,[3] some six years after he became heir-apparent, and had to wait another eleven years for his investiture, on 1 July 1969.[4]

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.

On 31 October 1460,[5] Richard of York was briefly created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall and Lord Protector of England by an Act of Parliament following the Act of Accord, as part of his arrangement to succeed Henry VI as king instead of Henry's own son.[6] However Richard was killed in battle soon afterwards.

Heraldic insignia and investiture[edit]


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.[7]

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 for "I serve"), see Prince of Wales's feathers.


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.

Other titles[edit]

Since 1301 the title Earl of Chester has generally been granted to heirs apparent to the English throne, and from the late 14th century it has been given only in conjunction with that of Prince of Wales. Both titles must be created for each individual and are not automatically acquired. The Earldom of Chester was one of the most powerful earldoms in medieval England extending principally over the counties of Cheshire and Flintshire.

A Prince of Wales also holds a number of additional titles. As heir apparent to the English/British throne he is—if the eldest living son of the monarch—Duke of Cornwall. As heir apparent to the Scottish throne he is Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland.

Individual Princes have also held additional titles, which were theirs prior to becoming Prince of Wales. Henry of Bolingbroke (later Henry IV) was Duke of Hereford and Duke of Lancaster. Prince Henry (later Henry VIII), Prince Charles (later Charles I) and Prince George (later George V) were each Duke of York. Prior to his father inheriting the English throne in 1603, the future Charles I was created Duke of Albany and Earl of Ross in Scotland. Both Prince Frederick (eldest son of George II) and his son Prince George (later George III) were Duke of Edinburgh.

Heir apparent versus heir presumptive[edit]

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 succession had followed male preference primogeniture, which meant that the heir apparent was the eldest son of the reigning monarch, or, if he was deceased, his eldest son, and so on, or if the monarch's eldest son had died without issue, the monarch's second eldest son, etc. As such, a daughter of the sovereign who was next in line to the throne was never the "heir apparent" because she would be displaced in the succession by any future legitimate son of the sovereign, and could not therefore take the title.

On 28 October 2011, the leaders of all 16 Commonwealth realms agreed to end the practice of male primogeniture regarding heirs to the throne.[8] The Succession to the Crown Act 2013 was introduced on 12 December 2012, published the next day, and received Royal Assent on 25 April 2013.[9] It was brought into force on 26 March 2015,[10] at the same time as the other Commonwealth realms implemented the Perth Agreement in their own laws.[11] No woman has ever held the title Princess of Wales in her own right, although a female first child may one day hold that title.

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 unlikely that George VI would 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 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.

List of Princes of Wales[edit]

Prince of Wales as independent title[edit]

Also, Prince of Gwynedd and of Aberffraw, Lord of Snowdon
Person Name Heir of Birth Became Prince of Wales Ceased to be Prince of Wales Death
Dafydd ap Llywelyn son of Llywelyn ab Iorwerth c. April 1212 11 April 1240; first documented use in 1244 25 February 1246
Llywelyn the Last at Cardiff City Hall.jpg Llywelyn ap Gruffudd N/A
son of Gruffydd ap Llywelyn
c.1223 Succeeded Dafydd in 1246 as prince of Gwynedd; used title "prince of Wales" from 1258; recognised by Henry III 29 September 1267 11 December 1282
killed in battle
Dafydd ap Gruffydd brother of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd c.1238 11 December 1282 3 October 1283
executed at Shrewsbury

Prince of Wales as title of English or British heir apparent[edit]

Person Name Heir of Birth Became Heir-apparent to the Throne Created Prince of Wales Ceased to be Prince of Wales Death
Edward I and II.jpg Edward of Caernarfon Edward I 25 April 1284 19 August 1284 7 February 1301 7 July 1307
acceded to throne as Edward II
21 September 1327
Plantagenet, Edward, The Black Prince, Iconic Image.JPG Edward of Woodstock, the Black Prince Edward III 15 June 1330 12 May 1343[12] 8 June 1376
RichardIIWestminsterHead.JPG Richard of Bordeaux 6 January 1367 8 June 1376 20 November 1376[12] 22 June 1377
acceded to throne as Richard II
14 February 1400
Henry5.JPG Henry of Monmouth Henry IV 16 September 1387 30 September 1399 15 October 1399[12] 21 March 1413
acceded to throne as Henry V
31 August 1422
Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York.jpg Richard of York Henry VI 21 September 1411 25 October 1460 31 October 1460[5] 30 December 1460
Edward.4.plantagenet.jpg Edward of Westminster 13 October 1453 15 March 1454[12] 11 April 1471
father deposed
4 May 1471
King-edward-v.jpg Edward of York Edward IV 4 November 1470 11 April 1471 26 June 1471[12] 9 April 1483
acceded to throne as Edward V
Rous Roll - Edward, Prince of Wales.jpg Edward of Middleham Richard III 1473 1483 24 August 1483[12] 31 March or
9 April 1484
Arthur Prince of Wales c 1500.jpg Arthur Tudor Henry VII 20 September 1486 29 November 1489 2 April 1502
HenryVIII 1509.jpg Henry Tudor 28 June 1491 2 April 1502 18 February 1504[12] 21 April 1509
acceded to throne as Henry VIII
28 January 1547
Edouard VI Tudor.jpg Edward Tudor Henry VIII 12 October 1537 [12] 28 January 1547
acceded to throne as Edward VI
6 July 1553
Henry Prince of Wales after Isaac Oliver.jpg Henry Frederick Stuart James I 19 February 1594 24 March 1603 4 June 1610[12] 6 November 1612
Charles I (Prince of Wales).jpg Charles Stuart 19 November 1600 6 November 1612 4 November 1616[12] 27 March 1625
acceded to throne as Charles I
30 January 1649
King Charles II by Adriaen Hanneman.jpg Charles Stuart Charles I 29 May 1630 declared c. 1638–1641[12] 30 January 1649
title abolished;
later (1660) acceded to throne as Charles II
6 February 1685
Prince James Francis Edward Stuart by Alexis Simon Belle.jpg James Francis Edward Stuart James II 10 June 1688 c. 4 July 1688[12] 11 December 1688
father deposed
1 January 1766
George II when Prince of Wales.png George Augustus George I 10 November 1683 1 August 1714 27 September 1714 11 June 1727
acceded to throne as George II
25 October 1760
Frederick Lewis, Prince of Wales by Philip Mercier.jpg Frederick Louis George II 1 February 1707 11 June 1727 8 January 1729[12] 31 March 1751
George, Prince of Wales, later George III, 1754 by Liotard.jpg George William Frederick 4 June 1738 31 March 1751 20 April 1751 25 October 1760
acceded to throne as George III
29 January 1820
George IV bust1.jpg George Augustus Frederick George III 12 August 1762 19 August 1762[12] 29 January 1820
acceded to throne as George IV
26 June 1830
Prince of Wales00.jpg Albert Edward Victoria 9 November 1841 8 December 1841 22 January 1901
acceded to throne as Edward VII
6 May 1910
George V of the United Kingdom01.jpg George Frederick Ernest Albert Edward VII 3 June 1865 22 January 1901 9 November 1901[13] 6 May 1910
acceded to throne as George V
20 January 1936
HRH The Prince of Wales No 4 (HS85-10-36416).jpg Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David George V 23 June 1894 6 May 1910 23 June 1911 20 January 1936
acceded to throne as Edward VIII;
later (1937) Duke of Windsor
28 May 1972
Prince Charles 2012.jpg Charles Philip Arthur George Elizabeth II 14 November 1948 6 February 1952 26 July 1958 Incumbent
Person Name Heir of Birth Became Heir-apparent to the Throne Created Prince of Wales Ceased to be Prince of Wales Death

The oldest Prince of Wales (as the English and British heir apparent) at the start of his tenure was George Frederick Ernest Albert, later George V, who was 36 years, 5 months and 6 days old when he assumed the title. 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).

The longest-serving Prince of Wales was Albert Edward, later Edward VII, who served for 59 years, 1 month and 14 days. Charles Philip Arthur George, the longest-serving heir apparent and current Prince of Wales, will surpass this record if he remains the Prince of Wales until 10 September 2017.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Prince of Wales - Royal Duties". Clarence House. Retrieved 10 August 2015. 
  2. ^ Glamorganshire. Retrieved on 2012-07-15.
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 41460. p. 4733. 29 July 1958. Retrieved 2 September 2008.
  4. ^ "The Prince of Wales — Investiture". Retrieved 12 October 2008. 
  5. ^ a b Cokayne, and others, The Complete Peerage, volume XII/2, page 908.
  6. ^ John Silvester Davies (1856). An English chronicle of the reigns of Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, and Henry VI written before the year 1471: with an appendix, containing the 18th and 19th years of Richard II and the Parliament at Bury St. Edmund's, 25th Henry VI and supplementary a. Printed for the Camden Society. p. 109. Retrieved 26 July 2013. 
  7. ^ Prince of Wales. Retrieved on 15 July 2012.
  8. ^ – Girls given equal rights to British throne under law changes. (28 October 2011). Retrieved on 2012-07-15.
  9. ^ Succession to the Crown Act. Parliament of the United Kingdom.
  10. ^ Succession to the Crown Act 2013 (Commencement) Order 2015 at (retrieved 30 March 2015)
  11. ^ Statement by Nick Clegg MP, UK parliament website, 26 March 2015 (retrieved on same date).
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n l Previous Princes. Prince of Wales official website. Retrieved on 15 July 2013.
  13. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27375. p. 7289. 9 November 1901.

External links[edit]